Sean Penn and Naomi Watts reunite to tell the story of Valerie Plame and the imaginary yellowcake in the new trailer for Doug Liman’s Fair Game. Hmm, ok…but I’m getting a Lions for Lambs/Green Zone flavor from this trailer — edutainmenty and too little, too late. Still, it pretty much has to be better than 21 Grams.
“All administrations produce unhappy people in the second term…What has changed at this point, though, ‘is that it feels like it’s every man for himself,’ says one former senior administration official.” Slate‘s John Dickerson takes a gander at the sinking ship mentality currently pervading the Dubya White House.
“Novak may choose to regret or not regret that he blew the cover of an undercover CIA employee; he would hardly be the first journalist to do so. But for Novak to continue pretending he did no such thing is just weird.” Slate‘s Tim Noah explains why Bob Novak is guilty of outing Valerie Plame, even if the DoL tends to suggest otherwise.
“Who is this tiny, tiny fellow? Not more than 5-foot-7, to my eye. Sleek and slight like a kitten. Wears a digital watch with a Velcro band. Also wears a little beaded bracelet around his wrist. And writes semiperverted novels set in 1903 Japan. I admit it: You fascinate me, sir.” While GitM has been on hiatus this week, the aspens have been turning in Washington over at the Scooter Libby trial, and old friend Seth Stevenson, among others, has a ringside seat for Slate.
“Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an amb 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?” A new court filing by Patrick Fitzgerald finds Dick Cheney fretting over Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame in his handwritten notes on Wilson’s article, further substantiating that the felonious leak likely emanated from the veep’s office…if not ordered by the vice-president himself. “Fitzgerald’s filing states that Libby learned of Plame’s name from Cheney, in the course of discussions by the vice president’s office about how to respond to a June 2003 inquiry from Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus about Wilson’s trip to Niger. Fitzgerald asserts that those conversations — and earlier ones sparked by a May 2003 column about the trip in the Times — help demonstrate that Libby’s ‘disclosures to the press concerning Mr. Wilson’s wife were not casual disclosures.‘”
All the t’s have been crossed and Novaks have been questioned…Now, according to the Post‘s Jim Vanderhei, Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s extended investigation of Karl Rove is nearing resolution. “Rove expects to learn as soon as this month if he will be indicted — or publicly cleared of wrongdoing — for making false statements in the CIA leak case, according to sources close to the presidential adviser. An indictment would be devastating to a White House already battered by low poll numbers, a staff shake-up and a stalled agenda.”
“I’m just not going to let this case turn into a judicial resolution of the legitimacy of the war or the accuracy of the president’s State of the Union address.” The verdict isn’t it yet — still, it seems Plamegate Judge Reggie Walton is not amused by the Libby defense’s recent attempts at graymail.
Fifth time’s the charm? Karl Rove returns once more to testify before Patrick Fitzgerald’s Plamegate grand jury, mainly to discuss his interactions with TIME reporter Viveca Novak. Will this fifth round of testimony of Dubya’s consigliere result in an indictment (and finally make Karl a household name?) Hopefully, we’ll know sooner rather than later. Update: Make that 2-3 weeks.
Irony of ironies, US District Judge Reggie B. Walston, presiding judge in Scooter Libby’s pending trial, threatens both sides with a gag order should information about the Plamegate case continue to make it into the newspapers. But the President told Scooter to call Judy, and maybe even Bob…
“I think that there has to be a detailed explanation precisely as to what Vice President Cheney did, what the president said to him, and an explanation from the president as to what he said so that it can be evaluated.” In keeping with a recent pattern of talking tough on the Sunday shows (no doubt to impress his independent-minded Pennsylvania constituents) while pretty much folding like an accordion in Senate committee, Arlen Specter says he want answers from Bush and Cheney regarding the recent Libby leak disclosure. Update: Dubya responds.
While Dubya and the GOP continue to smear and threaten the whistleblowers who exposed this administration’s recent egregious violations of civil liberties — the warrantless wiretaps or the secret gulags, for example — papers filed by Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald disclose that Scooter Libby was actually told to leak classified information to the press by Dubya and Cheney (although not necessarily the identity of Valerie Plame.) “Libby said he understood that ‘he was to tell [Judith] Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was “vigorously trying to procure” uranium,’ Fitzgerald wrote.” Replied DNC chair Howard Dean today, “The fact that the president was willing to reveal classified information for political gain and put the interests of his political party ahead of America’s security shows that he can no longer be trusted to keep America safe.” At the very least, given his own penchant for selective leaking, it means Dubya is being a tremendous hypocrite every time he starts equating whistleblowers with terrorist sympathizers, and that his repeated promise to find the leakers in his administration is roughly equivalent to OJ’s hunt for the real killers. Update: ABC’s John Cochran and Salon‘s Farhad Manjoo break down the implications. Update 2: Fitzgerald makes a correction.
“That Armitage is the likely source is a fair assumption.” Former Post editor Ben Bradlee, who claims to know the identity of Bob Woodward’s source on the Plame leak, seemed to suggest to Vanity Fair that it was Richard Armitage. When asked about his comments yesterday, Bradlee backtracked: “‘I don’t think I said it,’ Bradlee said. ‘I know who his source is, and I don’t want to get into it. . . . I have not told a soul who it is.’“
“Any disclosure of the PDB beyond its intended narrow audience — the President and his most senior advisers — increases the possibility of damage to the national security.” The Libby legal team’s attempt at graymail receives a highly unwelcome reception from the CIA.
“Scooter Libby has a Web site. He’s not running for office, but the site makes it looks like he is. The lead picture on the front page shows him with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Other snapshots portray him in soft focus and at oblique angles, the kinds of images candidates use to make themselves look more huggable.” Slate‘s John Dickerson evaluates the web presence of the Libby Legal Defense Trust (put together by Scooter’s big-ticket friends), and what it tells us about Libby’s probable defense strategy.
The wagons are a-circlin’: “A Who’s Who of Republican heavy hitters and Bush administration supporters are lending their names to help raise $5 million for the defense of Vice President Cheney’s former top aide in his criminal trial.”
“The defendant’s effort to make history in this case by seeking 277 PDBs in discovery — for the sole purpose of showing that he was ‘preoccupied’ with other matters when he gave testimony to the grand jury — is a transparent effort at ‘greymail.‘” Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — whose investigation is continuing — tries to put a stop to Scooter Libby’s shady defense tactics. “‘Graymailing’ — a tactic used to varying degrees by defendants in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s — occurs when a government official charged with a crime demands access to large quantities of classified material in an attempt to force prosecutors either to put national security at risk by producing the material or put the prosecution at risk by allowing the defendant to argue that he can’t get a fair trial without it.”
I forgot to post this during the header hiatus, and was just reminded of it again by Supercres: On the Plamegate front, Scooter Libby testified that his “superiors” authorized the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity, meaning — undoubtedly — Dick Cheney….and someone else?
“I’m confident the president knows who the source is. I’d be amazed if he doesn’t. So I say, ‘Don’t bug me. Don’t bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.’” What did the President know about Plamegate, and when did he know it? Saving his own skin first, as per the norm, Douchebag of Liberty Robert Novak says ask Dubya. Update: Safe once more among his kind, DoL Novak joins FOX News.
“One final note: Luskin is unhappy that I decided to write about our conversation, but I feel that he violated any understanding to keep our talk confidential by unilaterally going to Fitzgerald and telling him what was said.” TIME reporter Viveca Novak explains her testimony before the Fitzgerald grand jury. Novak, who may well have tipped Luskin to a hole in Rove’s story, is now on a leave of absence with TIME “by mutual agreement.”
Meanwhile, the investigations continue. This weekend, Time reporter Viveca Novak announced she’s cooperating with Plamegate prosecutors, who have been asking her about her conversations with Robert Luskin, Karl Rove’s attorney, beginning in 2004. Doesn’t sound like Rove is off the hook, does it? Update: Apparently, Novak was Rove’s alibi: “‘This is what caused [Fitzgerald] to hold off on charging’ Rove, the source said. But another person familiar with the conversations said they did not appear to significantly alter the case.“
Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald re-ups on another grand jury, suggesting anew that the Libby indictment was just the first phase of the investigation. Meanwhile, speculation run rampant on the identity of Bob Woodward’s new source: Apparently, it’s not Cheney, and spokesmen for Rove, Card, Bartlett, Powell, Armitage, Tenet and McLaughlin have all denied it, too (Not that the word of White House officials means all that much these days.) Stephen Hadley, perhaps?
Washington Post editor Bob Woodward testifies to the Fitzgerald grand jury about a third senior White House official involved in disclosing the identity of Valerie Plame, besides Libby and Rove. (Woodward’s statement.) This means Libby likely wasn’t the first to leak Plame’s identity, but the new info has no bearing on his perjury or obstruction of justice indictments.
For Woodward’s part, his statement and public comments about the case alternate between high dudgeon (“It was the first time in 35 years as a reporter that I have been asked to provide information to a grand jury”) and open ridicule (“When I think all of the facts come out in this case, it’s going to be laughable because the consequences are not that great.“) Mostly, he just seems cranky that he — award-winning journalist Bob Woodward! — was forced to take time away from another puff piece book on Dubya to testify about a felony in the White House. But this isn’t news. Frankly, Woodward has been embarrassing his legacy for years…almost any of his talking-head stints on Larry King illustrate that. Since at least the early Clinton years, he’s been more desirous of maintaining his high profile and insider status than in promoting good journalism or good government. (And in that, he’s reflected the trajectory of many in the newsmedia.) Update: The Post is somewhat irked.
“Why would an experienced lawyer and government official such as Libby leave himself so exposed to prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald?…To critics, the timing suggests an attempt to obscure Cheney’s role, and possibly his legal culpability.” The Post suggests anew that, in the investigation into the Valerie Plame leak, Scooter Libby fell on his sword for Cheney. Meanwhile, National Journal‘s Murray Waas reports that Karl Rove’s fate rests on Libby’s testimony, meaning it may be some time before “Bush’s Brain” is indicted, or in the clear.
“Even before I went to jail, I had become a lightning rod for public fury over the intelligence failures that helped lead our country to war…I believed then, and still do, that the answer to bad information is more reporting.” To no one’s surprise, Judy Miller “retires” from the New York Times, but not before getting in one last word (and setting up her own website.) Well, she was way wrong on WMD, but she’s right about this: The best thing the NYT can do to restore its credibility after Judy and Jayson Blair would be to lead an investigatory charge into the pre-war Iraq intelligence, and pronto.
“Karl does not have any real enemies in the White House, but there are a lot of people in the White House wondering how they can put this behind them if the cloud remains over Karl…You can not have that [fresh] start as long as Karl is there.” As Scooter Libby pleads not guilty, the White House contemplates its Rove problem. No enemies, perhaps, but the fact that a story like this is leaking suggest someone wants Rove out. Update: In light of recent events, Slate‘s Jacob Weisberg revisits the Bush/Rove = McKinley/Hanna analogy.
“I demand on behalf of the America people that we understand why these investigations aren’t being conducted.” In a bold and unblockable parliamentary move, Harry Reid closes the Senate doors to push for an inquiry into Libby and Weaponsgate. A blustering and blindsided Catkiller Frist, for one, was shocked — shocked! — by the closed-door session. “The United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership…They have no convictions, they have no principles, they have no ideas.” Please, Frist, take it down a notch…your blind panic is hardly presidential. Besides, the GOP don’t have any convictions yet either…just plenty of investigations and indictments.
Update: The Dems dig in: “We’re serving notice on [Senate Republicans] at this moment: Be prepared for this motion every day until you face the reality. The Senate Intelligence Committee has a responsibility to hold this administration accountable for the misuse of intelligence information. They have promised this investigation. We will continue to make this request until they do it.” Bravo!
“‘Everyone thinks it is over for Karl and they are wrong,’ a source close to Rove said. The strategist’s legal and political advisers ‘by no means think the part of the investigation concerning Karl is closed.’” As Scooter Libby preps for his Thursday arraignment, Rove continues to sweat the Fitzgerald investigation. Meanwhile, Cheney picked Libby’s replacements yesterday, and they’re more of the same: The new chief of staff, David Addington, was the co-author of the infamous torture memo, and Cheney’s new national security advisor, John Hannah, acted as the conduit for false Iraq intel in the lead-up to war. And, as you might expect of Cheney’s cronies, both are already implicated in Plamegate.
“‘The president said anyone involved would be gone,’ Reid said. ‘And we now know that Official A is Karl Rove. He’s still around. He should be let go.’” On the Sunday circuit, the Dems make the case for Rove’s dismissal, in keeping with Dubya’s earlier pledge to fire anyone involved in the Plame leak. And, last-minute Hail Mary notwithstanding, Rove still appears to be in legal trouble. “In prosecutorial parlance, this kind of awkward pseudonym ["Official A"] is often used for individuals who have not been indicted in a case but still face a significant chance of being charged. No other official in the investigation carries such an identifier.”
But how deep go the roots? As you know by now, Vice-Presidential Chief of Staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby (a.k.a. “Cheney’s Cheney“) has been indicted on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements. (So much for “restoring honor and dignity to the White House.”) As for the other rumored indictment, it seems Karl Rove has slipped off the hook for the time being, but the investigation continues…