Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bush Directed Cheney To Counter Wilson

There is a good story in The National Journal about the Libby/Cheney/Plame affair. It traces most of the incidents and describes the sequence of events. Basically Bush and Cheney wanted to discredit Wilson. That was understandable given that Wilson had published an op-ed piece that discredited them. It may even be that they had documents that they wanted de-classified—that they were in the process of de-classifying—that they thought would discredit Wilson. Nontheless, Libbey leaked Plame's identity and then lied about it. Here is that portion.
Central to the criminal charges against Libby is Libby's grand jury testimony and his statements to the FBI that when he talked to Cooper and Miller about Plame, he was only repeating rumors that he had heard from other journalists. Libby has testified that one or two days before talking to Miller and Cooper about Plame, NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert told Libby that Plame worked for the CIA, and that other reporters had heard the same information.

According to Libby's indictment, Libby told the FBI that after Russert told him about Plame, Libby responded 'that he did not know that, and Russert replied that all the reporters knew it. Libby was surprised by this statement because, while speaking with Russert, Libby did not recall that he previously had learned about Wilson's wife's employment from the Vice President.'

Contradicting Libby, Russert testified to the grand jury that he never spoke about Plame to Libby. Prosecutors alleged that Libby lied about Russert, and the Libby indictment states that he learned about Plame from Cheney and also from State Department and CIA officials with either direct or indirect access to classified information.

A central focus of Fitzgerald's investigation has been why Libby would devise a cover story on how he learned of Plame's CIA work when prosecutors had obtained Libby's own notes showing that Libby had first gotten the information from Cheney. Libby told the FBI and testified to the grand jury that he had forgotten what Cheney had told him by the time that he made the Plame disclosure to reporters.

"I no longer remembered it," Libby testified to the grand jury regarding his June 12 conversation with Cheney. It was only after speaking to Russert, Libby testified, that he "learned" the information about Plame's CIA employment "anew."

Federal investigators have concluded that Libby's account is implausible.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world with minimal government services and insufficient funds to develop its resource base. The largely agrarian and subsistence-based economy is frequently disrupted by extended droughts common to the Sahel region of Africa.

One of the things that seems strange to me is that someone thought that a story claiming that Plame sent her husband Wilson to Niger as a junket would be convincing. I never thought of Niger as a junket destination.
In any event, I don't understand why they just didn't continue with the declassification efforts and let it go at that.
During the same time that Cheney and Libby's effort to leak classified information to discredit Wilson was under way, other White House officials were working through a formal interagency declassification process to make public portions of one or both of the same documents. It is unclear why Cheney and Libby were apparently acting without the knowledge of other senior government officials who were working with Cheney and Libby to formally declassify much of the very same information.

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