Sparky: Blablabla - I 've lost it ...
NYT: DAVID JOHNSTON, RICHARD W. STEVENSON and DOUGLAS JEHL: Cheney Told Aide of CIA Officer, Lawyers Report
I. Lewis Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Cheney.
“… Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby’s testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the
The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson’s husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration’s handling of intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program to justify the war.
Lawyers said the notes show that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003. …”
Husband Is Conspicuous in Leak Case
Washington Post, United States - 1 hour ago
By Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus. To his backers, Joseph C. Wilson IV is a brave whistle-blower wronged by the Bush administration. ...
Salon - 7 hours ago
The GOP spin: Smear Wilson (again), belittle the charges. The Dems' spin: Bush and his enforcers lied us into war. By Michael Scherer. ...
|Shame of naming|
Channel 4 News, UK - 8 hours ago
George Bush's closest aides face charges of perjury and obstruction in thge naming of a CIA operative. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald ...
|CIA leak inquiry in final stretch|
BBC News, UK - 16 hours ago
By Justin Webb. The long-running inquiry into the leaking by the White House of the name of a serving CIA officer is due to finish this week. ...
|Jeralyn Merritt: A Kinder, Gentler Libby|
Yahoo! News - Oct 23, 2005
The New York Times Sunday profiles Lewis "Scooter" Libby. While it's intended to be a humanizing piece, and it does accomplish that ...
Leak case returns spotlight to rationale for Iraq war
|Many players emerging in CIA leak drama|
Seattle Post Intelligencer - Oct 23, 2005
By NANCY BENAC. WASHINGTON -- It began with a clumsy forgery, led the president to backtrack on his own State of the Union address ...
International Herald Tribune, France - Oct 23, 2005
WASHINGTON The legal and political stakes are of the highest order, but the investigation into the disclosure of a covert CIA officer's identity is also just ...
Collective Bellaciao: MARTIN WALKER: Forged Niger Documents: Fitzgerald Launches International Investigation
“ ... This suggests the inquiry by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the leaking of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame has now widened to ... ”
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The CIA leak inquiry that threatens senior White House aides has now widened to include the forgery of documents on African uranium that started the investigation, according to NAT0 intelligence sources.
This suggests the inquiry by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into the leaking of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame has now widened to embrace part of the broader question about the way the Iraq war was justified by the Bush administration.
Fitzgerald’s inquiry is expected to conclude this week and despite feverish speculation in Washington, there have been no leaks about his decision whether to issue indictments and against whom and on what charges.
Two facts are, however, now known and between them they do not bode well for the deputy chief of staff at the White House, Karl Rove, President George W Bush’s senior political aide, not for Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.
The first is that Fitzgerald last year sought and obtained from the Justice Department permission to widen his investigation from the leak itself to the possibility of cover-ups, perjury and obstruction of justice by witnesses. This has renewed the old saying from the days of the Watergate scandal, that the cover-up can be more legally and politically dangerous than the crime.
The second is that NATO sources have confirmed to United Press International that Fitzgerald’s team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government.
Fitzgerald’s team has been given the full, and as yet unpublished report of the Italian parliamentary inquiry into the affair, which started when an Italian journalist obtained documents that appeared to show officials of the government of Niger helping to supply the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein with Yellowcake uranium. This claim, which made its way into President Bush’s State of the Union address in January, 2003, was based on falsified documents from Niger and was later withdrawn by the White House.
This opens the door to what has always been the most serious implication of the CIA leak case, that the Bush administration could face a brutally damaging and public inquiry into the case for war against Iraq being false or artificially exaggerated. This was the same charge that imperiled the government of Bush’s closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, after a BBC Radio program claimed Blair’s aides has "sexed up" the evidence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
There can be few more serious charges against a government than going to war on false pretences, or having deliberately inflated or suppressed the evidence that justified the war.
And since no WMD were found in Iraq after the 2003 war, despite the evidence from the U.N. inspections of the 1990s that demonstrated that Saddam Hussein had initiated both a nuclear and a biological weapons program, the strongest plank in the Bush administration’s case for war has crumbled beneath its feet.
The reply of both the Bush and Blair administrations was that they made their assertions about Iraq’s WMD in good faith, and that other intelligence agencies like the French and German were equally mistaken in their belief that Iraq retained chemical weapons, along with the ambition and some of technological basis to restart the nuclear and biological programs.
It is this central issue of good faith that the CIA leak affair brings into question. The initial claims Iraq was seeking raw uranium in the west African state of Niger aroused the interest of vice-president Cheney, who asked for more investigation. At a meeting of CIA and other officials, a CIA officer working under cover in the office that dealt with nuclear proliferation, Valerie Plame, suggested her husband, James Wilson, a former ambassador to several African states, enjoyed good contacts in Niger and could make a preliminary inquiry. He did so, and returned concluding that the claims were untrue. In July 2003, he wrote an article for The New York Times making his mission -- and his disbelief -- public.
But by then Elisabetta Burba, a journalist for the Italian magazine Panorama (owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi) had been contacted by a "security consultant" named Rocco Martoni, offering to sell documents that "proved" Iraq was obtaining uranium in Niger for $10,000. Rather than pay the money, Burba’s editor passed photocopies of the documents to the U.S. Embassy, which forwarded them to Washington, where the forgery was later detected. Signatures were false, and the government ministers and officials who had signed them were no longer in office on the dates on which the documents were supposedly written.
Nonetheless, the forged documents appeared, on the face of it, to shore up the case for war, and to discredit Wilson. The origin of the forgeries is therefore of real importance, and any link between the forgeries and Bush administration aides would be highly damaging and almost certainly criminal.
The letterheads and official seals that appeared to authenticate the documents apparently came from a burglary at the Niger Embassy in Rome in 2001. At this point, the facts start dribbling away into conspiracy theories that involve membership of shadowy Masonic lodges, Iranian go-betweens, right-wing cabals inside Italian Intelligence and so on. It is not yet known how far Fitzgerald, in his two years of inquiries, has fished in these murky waters.
There is one line of inquiry with an American connection that Fitzgerald would have found it difficult to ignore. This is the claim that a mid-ranking Pentagon official, Larry Franklin, held talks with some Italian intelligence and defense officials in Rome in late 2001. Franklin has since been arrested on charges of passing classified information to staff of the pro-Israel lobby group, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. Franklin has reportedly reached a plea bargain with his prosecutor, Paul McNulty, and it would be odd if McNulty and Fitzgerald had not conferred to see if their inquiries connected.
Where all this leads will not be clear until Fitzgerald breaks his silence, widely expected to occur this week when the term of his grand jury expires.
If Fitzgerald issues indictments, then the hounds that are currently baying across the blogosphere will leap into the mainstream media and whole affair, Iranian go-betweens and Rome burglaries included, will come into the mainstream of the mass media and network news where Mr. and Mrs. America can see it.
If Fitzgerald issues no indictments, the matter will not simply die away, in part because the press is now hotly engaged, after the new embarrassment of the Times over the imprisonment of the paper’s Judith Miller. There is also an uncomfortable sense that the press had given the Bush administration too easy a ride after 9/11. And the Bush team is now on the ropes and its internal discipline breaking down, making it an easier target.
Then there is a separate Senate Select Intelligence Committee inquiry under way, and while the Republican chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas seems to be dragging his feet, the ranking Democrat, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, is now under growing Democratic Party pressure to pursue this question of falsifying the case for war.
And last week, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, introduced a resolution to require the president and secretary of state to furnish to Congress documents relating to the so-called White House Iraq Group. Chief of staff Andrew Card formed the WHIG task force in August 2002 -- seven months before the invasion of Iraq, and Kucinich claims they were charged "with the mission of marketing a war in Iraq."
The group included: Rove, Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin and Stephen Hadley (now Bush’s national security adviser) and produced white papers that put into dramatic form the intelligence on Iraq’s supposed nuclear threat. WHIG launched its media blitz in September 2002, six months before the war. Rice memorably spoke of the prospect of "a mushroom cloud," and Card revealingly explained why he chose September, saying "From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August."
The marketing is over but the war goes on. The press is baying and the law closes in. The team of Bush loyalists in the White House is demoralized and braced for disaster.
I hope Patrick isn't related to Jennifer
Jennifer Fitzgerald, born 1932, her full name Jennifer Ann Isobel Patteson-Knight Fitzgerald, is a U.S. diplomat who is alleged to have had an ongoing affair with President George H.W. Bush, starting at least when he was United States ambassador to China and continuing while he was Vice President and later President. She has never spoken on the record to confirm or deny the affair.
Fitzgerald's name headed a list of rumored Bush paramours widely circulated among the higher echelons of the Washington media throughout the 1980s, when she had a position in protocol at the State Department, but never reported. The Washington Post, however, did once famously refer to her as having served Bush "in a variety of positions" throughout his career.
Beginning of affair
Bush had supposedly had several discreet extramarital relationships during the 1960s, mainly within the context of his career as an oilman and later in Congress. He and Barbara maintained an understanding that she would tolerate them as long as he avoided humiliating the family.
Fitzgerald, a divorcée who first met Bush in 1974 when she left a White House position to become Bush's secretary after he was appointed U.S. ambassador to China, changed all that. While later accounts by the two suggest they spent a great deal of time together in that country, in actual fact Barbara Bush suddenly returned home shortly before Fitzgerald's arrival and remained for three months. The couple spent the holidays apart, greatly concerning Bush's mother Dorothy, who went to visit him during this time.
Friends of the couple have said there was visible strain in their marriage during this time. Years later, Barbara was still bitter when she complained to author Gail Sheehy that her husband hadn't even noticed that she had stopped coloring her hair.
She resented Fitzgerald because, it is said, she came to exert a great deal of influence over him, being called by some George Bush's "office wife." Those who have seen Bush with Fitzgerald say that while she bears a strong physical resemblance to a slightly younger Barbara Bush, she is far less domineering and builds up his ego far more than his wife does.
When Bush left his ambassadorial post to become Director of Central Intelligence, she came along to Langley as his personal and confidential assistant. During this time, Barbara Bush has later said, she was suffering from depression so severe she contemplated suicide on several occasions. He frequently sought Fitzgerald's company as a result.
They apparently separated professional company the next year when, following the change of administration, Bush left the CIA post to return, temporarily, to the private sector. He was able to arrange for Fitzgerald to stay in public service, however, as a special assistant to Kingman Brewster, the former president of Yale University, then serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. Coincidentally, one of the corporate boards Bush served on required that he frequently travel to London.
She would only last a year in that job, as she took frequent trips back to the U.S. to see Bush, to the detriment of her work.
1980 presidential campaign
Bush aide and longtime confidant James Baker is said to have threatened to resign from Bush's 1980 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination if Fitzgerald was in any way involved, due to the strong influence she had on him. Only after he became Ronald Reagan's running mate and won election was she able to return, this time as a member of his staff.
In that position she clashed with another close Bush staffer, future Republican National Committee president Rich Bond. This time he left, after Bush told him he would not make the same mistake twice.
On March 18, 1981, it has been claimed, security men suddenly went up to Alexander Haig and William French Smith, then Attorney General, while they were having dinner at the Lion d'Or restaurant in Washington with friends and family. The pair departed hastily, then returned after 45 minutes laughing and shaking their heads.
Their companions asked what had happened, and they explained that Bush had gotten into a car accident while out with Fitzgerald and needed their help keeping the incident off the record.
Nancy Reagan, who disliked the Bushes, reportedly has told the story many times to many people.
Other anecdotes involving Bush and Fitzgerald, who settled in under the title "executive assistant" to the Vice President, became part of Washington gossip during the 1980s. It was said that Bush had been visiting Fitzgerald one night at her home near the Chinese embassy when the building she lived in caught fire. The Secret Service refused to even let city firefighters in the building until Bush's departure via a secluded rear exit could be assured.
In 1984, Bush went to Geneva for disarmament talks. While Fitzgerald accompanied him, they took separate hotel rooms. A lawyer from the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency went to Fitzgerald's room with some papers for her signature. Bush answered the door, and after the talks the two reportedly shared a cottage on Lake Geneva.
1988 presidential campaign
Bush reassigned Fitzgerald to be his chief lobbyist to Congress as he prepared to run to succeed Reagan, a move engineered by the rest of his staff, who resented her influence. Despite the transfer to Capitol Hill, that influence persisted.
After Bush won election, Fitzgerald was transferred to the State Department as deputy chief of protocol. Barbara Bush did not want her in the White House, and as James Baker, the new Secretary of State, was the only one who could counterbalance her, it was decided to put her where he could keep an eye on her.
Late in the campaign, rumors that reports about Bush and Fitzgerald being alone together in a hotel room for most of a night were about to hit the media caused the stock market to fall for a day.
In 1990, Fitzgerald, upon her return from an official trip to Argentina for the inauguration of President Carlos Menem, was found by the U.S. Customs Service to have underdeclared the value of a $1,100 fur-lined raincoat and failing to declare a $1,300 silver fox cape she had bought there. She was fined $648.
However, as the Washington Post later reported, the State Department disciplined her with a two-week unpaid suspension. This raised eyebrows because such abuse of diplomatic privilege typically costs the offenders their jobs. It was widely believed that Fitzgerald earned a comparative slap on the wrist only by virtue of her relationship with the president.
Also that year, Barbara wrote her bestselling Millie's Book, a lighthearted account of the family travels over the years from the perspective of the family dog. It contains an anecdote in which "Millie" recalls walking into a room and surprising Fitzgerald by carrying her pantyhose in her mouth, perhaps a reference to catching the two in the act. This is the only public statement or other acknowledgement she has made concerning Fitzgerald.
1992 presidential campaign
After Arkansas governor Bill Clinton clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, Republicans made much of disclosures about Clinton's affair with Gennifer Flowers and spread rumors of other Clinton affairs.
It was thus inevitable that the whispers about Fitzgerald would find their way into the media, and that summer they did. CNN's Mary Tillotson asked him the question directly.
"I'm not going to take any sleazy questions like that from CNN," he responded, visibly agitated (and not denying it). and later Marlin Fitzwater, his press secretary, told other White House reporters that Tillotson would never work there again. He reacted angrily to the question but did not deny it. The next day George W. Bush called her on his father's behalf and said, "The answer to the big 'A' question is N-O."
Spy magazine was the first to get the story in print with a long report in its July/August issue. A cover story by Joe Conason giving a thousand reasons not to re-elect Bush had as number one, "He cheats on his wife." It named Fitzgerald and singer Jane Morgan, wife of movie producer Jerry Weintraub, as present and past dalliances of the president and discussed other women reportedly on the list without using their names but much circumstantial evidence.
One of Conason's sources was Linda Tripp, whose concerns about presidential infidelity would come to haunt the next administration as well.
Bush was, according to one report, worried about the import of the article enough to warn his wife, but the story remained tactfully ignored by the major media.
Then, on August 11, the New York Post published a front-page story called "The Bush Affair," reporting on a footnote in The Power House by Susan B. Trento, a biography of Washington lobbyist and publicist Robert Gray. A footnote discussed Gray's involvement in Bush's efforts to keep the affair quiet and his presidential hopes alive. It mentioned that the late ambassador to Switzerland, Louis Fields, and his awareness of the 1984 lakeside cottage stay in that country. For the first time, a photograph of Fitzgerald ran next to a story about the affair.
It finally became a topic of national discussion. The next day, at a White House press conference, surrounded by his family and his 91-year-old mother, President Bush called the report "a lie."
Fitzgerald's mother, Frances Patteson-Knight, too, buttressed her daughter, who had reportedly had a nervous breakdown after the story was published. “Jennifer is completely tortured by this whole business,” she said. She doesn’t know what to do. She thinks it is all just horrible, horrible.” However, she added that Jennifer was "very hurt by his lack of support" and "(didn't think he'd) acted like a man here."
Bush continued his pattern of lashing out at any members of the media who dared ask him directly about his relationship with Fitzgerald. NBC's Stone Phillips also got upbraided for his "bad manners" by the president for asking about it in the Oval Office. The Washington Post headlined its story "BUSH ERUPTS!"
Conservatives and Republicans dismissed the allegations, contrasting its sourcing of a footnote referencing the recollections of a dead man with Flowers's taped phone conversations and on-the-record interview with the Star supermarket tabloid. Clinton himself denounced the story, saying he sympathized with Bush and didn't like such investigations no matter who was their subject.
After that, the major media dropped the story and have shown no interest ever since.
Whether the affair continued after Bush lost his re-election bid is not known.
However, it did play a tiny part in his son's administration. After winning the presidency himself in 2000, some of his conservative supporters called on him to reinstate Tripp to her previous position as a reward for what they believed to be her whistleblowing. This was not done, however, because the Bush family will never forgive her for leaking details about Fitzgerald to Conason.
Fitzgerald has never spoken to the media, as she has much to lose and little to gain by doing so. She lives a somewhat secluded life.
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