With October just around the corner, emptywheel peers into the Chinese Box that is the Plame case and takes a stab at the chain of events. Since nobody follows this more closely or insightfully than emptywheel, I thought it well worth posting:
Dick, Libby, Hadley, and a few other recognized the threat of Wilson and started looking for dirt on him in March. They likely put out an APB for dirt, which if Fitz has found it is exhibit A in a conspiracy case.I have to wonder about two things -- one, that Fitzgerald is evidently after documents Miller either gave OR received, which I suppose could be the "Exhibit B" emptywheel talks about. Given that Tenet is reportedly upset that Miller might skate, though, it implies that he thinks her involvement in the whole thing may have been a bit more active than, say, Matt Cooper's, and might certainly involved spreading information, so I'd probably beef that aspect of the story up a bit.
Because of events marginally related, Bolton and Fleitz discovered Plame was Wilson's wife in June. Either Fleitz filled in the additional details (that Plame was NOC and her cover was Brewster-Jennings) or perhaps they put out another APB for more details on Plame's role at the CIA and David Shedd revealed to Stephen Hadley some more. I doubt that either Fleitz or Shedd are guilty of any violations--except perhaps a violation of rules surrounding Secure Compartmentalized Information, which I'm fairly confident Fleitz broke fairly commonly (more on that in my next Bolton post).
So now we've got the information, but not an official leak. I do think Bolton leaked it to--at least--Miller, in June. That would be the first real charge here, probably a violation of the IIPA.
I also think there would be a set of talking points on Plame circulated, at this point, internally. For a variety of reasons, I think this was drawn up at NSC, perhaps by Hadley who seems to have no fear of lying under oath. This document will be exhibit B in a conspiracy case. But again, its circulation internally is probably only a violation of SCI rules.
Then there was additional leaking the week of July 6, if not before. Rove is almost certainly guilty of one of these, since Cooper first found out Plame's identity from him. I suspect Libby will also be guilty, in his conversation to Russert and perhaps his conversation to Miller. I also think there's the possibility that Bartlett will have leaked Plame's identity that week, too. These will probably be generic security clearance violations, because neither Libby nor Rove nor Bartlett would have had the need-to-know Plame's identity.
During the week of July 6, I think the INR Memo only served as a talking point in Air Force 1. So it's no longer the source of the leak. But it's the document that gives Powell the material to defend his story that there was a discussion about outing Plame on Air Force 1--That is, Powell is the witness that corroborates the two earlier documents. And Powell is the witness that fingers Condi, Bush, and Bartlett in addition to all the earlier conspirers.
I suspect there is also some kind of evidence--probably some emails--that show ongoing discussions between Libby, Rove, and Hadley during this week. I think Rove's attempt to explain away his email to Hadley suggests there's something incriminating there. And I suspect George Tenet is a witness to this conspiracy in some fashion--associated with the drafting of his mea culpa. I suspect Tenet is a cooperating witness, but perhaps not as cooperative as Powell.
So you have any number of people who are implicated in the conspiracy to out a spy: Rove, Cheney, Libby, Matalin (waived for her testimony), Hannah, Wurmser, Bolton, Hadley, Bush, Bartlett, Rice, Ari (waived for his testimony). I don't think there's a chance in hell they'll all be indicted. I think a lot of it depends on whether Fitz has found Exhibits A and B.
Then, during the month of September, when Ashcroft tipped Rove and Libby off that there would be an investigation, Rove, Libby, and Novak organized what I'll call the second conspiracy, to get off of the charges. They all lied in conversations with the FBI, making up the story that Judy Miller and maybe some other journalists told them all and they just passed it on from there. Cooper's testimony is evidence of Rove's lying. Russert, we don't know about, wrt to Libby's lie. And I'm not sure how they're going to prove that Novak lied; I think they know he did, but Rove and Novak are the only witnesses who could testify about it.
Finally, I think Abu Gonzales may be involved in obstruction, but again, I'm not sure Fitz will be able to prove it. I would bet money that an NSC talking points document on Plame exist(s) but that Abu Gonzales skimmed it during his two week review. I also think Libby may have altered some of his hand-written notes about the WHIG, which Fitz might be able to prove if someone from the WHIG (Matalin?) cooperates. But I'm less sure these charges are going to be proven.
And secondly, to Novak: as I've said before, early on he had an incredible swaggering arrogance which made it look like he thought he was protected, and I wondered if in fact he may have cut some sort of deal with Ashcroft (pre-Fitzgerald). As time went on, Novak seemed to break down, and by the time he walked off CNN he looked like whatever safety net he thought he had just disappeared. Based on psychology alone, I think the investigation took some sort of turn relative to him, either he became a target or Fitzgerald got him on perjury and he now had to rat out his buddies to keep from becoming one.
I certainly do hope Powell's mea culpas regarding the UN are his attempt to set the stage for a giant rat-out of the whole bunch. That would certainly be a pleasant fall diversion, no?