Friday, October 28, 2005

Read the indictment... and read between the lines.

The title links to the indictments (PDF) brought by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald against Lewis (Scooter) Libby.

Page 4 has a bunch of stuff about an "Under Secretary of State" It is clear that Libby had no clue where the unattributed source for the Kristoff column run on May 6 was coming from, but to get to the bottom of it Libby tries to get info from the under secretary. Upon review of this piece of the indictment I see no impropriety in having the under secretary provide this info to the vice presidents chief of staff, who holds a security clearance. I would bet... something very valuable... that the under secretary in question here is John Bolton. Thus if Boltons sole involvement in the affair is in responding to information requests, he's off the hook. BUT... (the entire next paragraph is speculation)

Page 8 point 1 brings up an interesting point for consideration. Libby discusses an upcoming article from columnist Robert Novak with "Official A", (presumably Karl Rove) in which official A says Novak is going to out Valerie Plame. We know that the investigation does not conclude now that Libby is indicted. The way in which Novak found out about Ms. Plame is not discussed in the indictment of Libby. Might Fitzgerald be investigating a possible conspiracy to out Ms. Plame? If so it is clear that Bolton is involved with researching the Plame angle of the story early on in the proceedings. I would speculate (purely speculate) that Bolton would figure prominently in any conspiracy to out Ms. Plame. Also, if this be the case I believe the conduit for this would be Judy Miller. If this be the case I believe Ms. Millers attorney would be in a bit of hot water. He assured the special counsel as part of the deal to release her from jail for not testifying, that having reviewed Ms. Millers notes, Karl Rove was the only substantial source for Ms. Miller in this affair.

Libby on page 9 is charged with lying to the FBI regarding a conversation he had with Tim Russert of Meet the Press. Libby claims Russert called him to discuss the status of Valerie Plame saying that her status with the CIA was widely known by Washington D.C. reporters on July 10 or 11. The indictment on page 7 point 20 specifies Libby spoke to Russert on July 10 but that Plame was not discussed. One is left to wonder why Libby would be spilling the beans about the entire Washington D.C. press corps knowing Plames identity according to Russert, early on in the FBI investigation, if that conversation with Russert actually didn't touch on the issue. This sounds like a misdirection from Libby to the FBI, with Libby knowing that the press was being supplied with Plames identity. This also points to a conspiracy to release this classified info. The steps taken by Libby to discuss the Plame issue on a secure phone as described on page 5 point 1 clearly show he understood this was classified information. [Update: I should have realized this phantom conversation with Russert was Libby trying to establish early in the FBI investigation that he heard the Plame business from the press rather than the other way around. As such this was indeed a misdirection from Libby to the FBI.]

Also just looking at the various points specified in the indictment where-in it is noted that Libby discussed the situation with various parties points to conspiracy. So the investigation continues, but this indictment offers some tantalizing clues.

I think Official A could be the "no partisan gunslinger" that was Novak's key source. But your position is possible as well.
I would point out that rather than labeling this individual "Person A" the indictment makes clear it is an official. This leads one to believe that this person, being an official in the Bush White House, is partisan. As to Novaks characterization of his source as "no partisan gunslinger" I would not take as honest information a single word of this man at this point. In fact, by using the term "partisan gunslinger" he's pointing directly at Rove. The modifier "no" in this case holds no weight in my opinion. Also reading around the blogosphere, this official a is being widely interpreted as being Rove.
It's official... Official A is Rove. Its all over the news. The under secretary is a bit more problematic. I might have to eat that one.
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