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What you DIDN'T learn from today's New York Times

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I just got the following from a friend. Quite a good and interesting analysis...

Today's New York Times resolved many questions, but left several important ones unanswered. Here are some possible answers:

Question: Why did Robert Novak use the name 'Valerie Plame' when the State Department memo said 'Valerie Wilson'?

Answer: Maybe because Novak's original source, the one who gave him the name, wanted him to write, 'Valerie Plame.'

Question: Why would they want him to do that?

Answer: Maybe because Valerie Plame was the name under which she was still working as a non-official cover (NOC) clandestine CIA officer; running that name through U.S. public records -- specifically FEC filings -- revealed her front company, Brewster-Jennings & Associates. It's also the name that foreign governments could successfully run through their immigration, hotel, and other databases to check on her activities. Maybe an Agency source could confirm this.

Question: But why would anyone want to out a clandestine CIA officer?

Answer: Maybe to attack her husband for questioning intelligence used to justify a war, and to attack the CIA both for Wilson's whistle-blowing and for dragging its heels during the drive to war (remember how ticked the Bushies have been at the CIA for not drinking the Kool-Aid?). Maybe going after a clandestine officer was intended as simply the latest and most brazen effort to intimidate and exert pressure on Agency analysts and officers. Only the leakers know their motives.

Question: Who knew Valerie Plame's maiden name to leak it to Novak?

Answer: If Plame was indeed a non-official cover clandestine officer, only officials at the highest level of government would have had access to that information. Among those officials might have been Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, who had two former advisers, John Hannah and David Wurmser, working for Vice President Dick Cheney in the White House.

Question: So the Under Secretary leaked the name?

Answer: Not necessarily. The Under Secretary might have had access to the information, but others would too. He also could have relayed the information to others in government, perhaps unaware that it would be leaked, or perhaps aware.

Question: So why hasn't the Special Counsel looked into any of this?

Answer: According to several reports, he has. Richard Sale of United Press International reported in February 17, 2004, that federal law enforcement officials had 'hard evidence' against John Hannah and Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby:
Federal law-enforcement officials said that they have developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct by two employees of Vice President Dick Cheney's office related to the unlawful exposure of a CIA officer's identity last year. The investigation, which is continuing, could lead to indictments, a Justice Department official said.

According to these sources, John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, were the two Cheney employees. 'We believe that Hannah was the major player in this,' one federal law-enforcement officer said. Calls to the vice president's office were not returned, nor did Hannah and Libby return calls.

The strategy of the FBI is to make clear to Hannah 'that he faces a real possibility of doing jail time' as a way to pressure him to name superiors, one federal law-enforcement official said.
This morning's New York Times cover story confirms that Libby has been a focus of the investigation:
Mr. Fitzgerald has also looked into any role that I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, may have played. Lawyers in the case have said their clients have been asked about Mr. Libby's conversations in the days after Mr. Wilson's article -- in part based on Mr. Libby's hand-written notes, which he turned over to the prosecutor.

In addition, several journalists have been asked about their conversations with Mr. Libby. At least one, Tim Russert of NBC News, has suggested that prosecutors wanted to know whether he had told Mr. Libby of Ms. Wilson's identity. After Mr. Russert met with Mr. Fitzgerald, NBC said that he did not provide the information to Mr. Libby.
If these reports are accurate, they echo what Wilson himself told Joe Conason in a May 4, 2004, interview for Salon:
Wilson: Gleaned from all those cross currents of information, the most plausible scenario, and the one that I've heard most frequently from different sources, has been that there was a meeting in the middle of March 2003, chaired by either [Vice President Cheney's chief of staff] Scooter Libby or the Vice President ­ but more frequently I've heard chaired by Scooter ­ at which a decision was made to geta work-up on me. That meant getting as much information about me as they could: about my past, about my life, about my family. This, in and of itself, is abominable. Then that information was passed at the appropriate time to the White House Communications Office, and at some point a decision was made to go ahead and start to smear me, after my opinion piece appeared in the New York Times.

Salon: You mention two other names: John Hannah, who works in the Office of the Vice President, and David Wurmser, who is a special assistant to John Bolton, the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and National Security. Last Wednesday, their names both appeared on a chart that accompanied an article in the New York Times about the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans and the war cabal within the Bush administration. Did these people run an intelligence operation against you?

Wilson: I don't know if it's the same unit, but it's very clear, from what I've heard, that the meeting in March 2003 led to an intelligence operation against my family and me. That's what a work-up is -- to try to find everything you can about an American citizen.
They also echo what Wilson says in his book, The Politics of Truth:
Apparently, according to two journalist sources of mine, when Rove learned that he might have violated the law, he turned on Cheney and Libby and made it clear that he held them responsible for the problem they had created for the administration. The protracted silence on this topic from the White House masks considerable tension between the Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President.
The rumors swirling around Rove, Libby, and Abrams were so pervasive in Washington that the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, was obliged to address them in an October 2003 briefing, saying of Rove: 'The president knows he wasn't involved. It's simply not true.' McClellan refused to be drawn into a similar direct denial of Libby's or Abrams's possible involvement, however.

Question: So even Wilson says Karl Rove did nothing wrong?

Answer: No. There may have been three original crimes. First, the crime committed by those who knowingly and willfully revealed the identity of a clandestine intelligence officer by giving Robert Novak the name 'Valerie Plame.' Second, those who served as relatively unwitting cut-outs, willfully revealing classified information -- which is both a crime and a violation of their non-disclosure agreements -- but not realizing that they were disclosing the identity of a clandestine CIA officer. And third, revealing any and all other details of Wilson's trip in the classified State Department document, including his wife's role in the trip (if any), not simply his wife's status as CIA. Allegedly, Rove may not have known the full picture, but what he did was nonetheless wrong and potentially criminal. And he knew was talking to reporters about the details of classified information, and he apparently didn't care enough to shut up.

Question: So what are the next questions?

* Who authored the INR (State Department's intelligence branch) memo, and why and how was it misleading?

* Who leaked the name, 'Valerie Plame,' and how did he or she receive that

* Who else was complicit in the worse crime of outing a clandestine CIA
officer? In the lesser crime of revealing classified information?

* What did the Vice President know, and when did he know it?

* What did the President know, and when did he know it?

* Why were people in the White House so afraid of what Joe Wilson had to say?

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