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Monday, October 24, 2005

NYT: Libby Learned of Plame's Identity From Cheney

According to the NYT, somebody got ahold of notes from a "previously undisclosed conversation" between Scooter and the Veep on June 12, 2003 that "appear to differ from Mr. Libby’s testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said."
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.


It would not be illegal for either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby, both of whom are presumably cleared to know the government’s deepest secrets, to discuss a C.I.A. officer or her link to a critic of the administration. But any effort by Mr. Libby to steer investigators away from his conversation with Mr. Cheney could be considered by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case, to be an illegal effort to impede the inquiry.


But the notes, now in Mr. Fitzgerald’s possession, also indicate that Mr. Libby first heard about Ms. Wilson — who is also known by her maiden name, Valerie Plame — from Mr. Cheney. That apparent discrepancy in his testimony suggests why prosecutors are weighing false statement charges against him in what they interpret as an effort by Mr. Libby to protect Mr. Cheney from scrutiny, the lawyers said. (my emphasis)


Mr. Cheney was interviewed under oath by Mr. Fitzgerald last year. It is not known what the vice president told Mr. Fitzgerald about the conversation with Mr. Libby or when Mr. Fitzgerald first learned of it.
I'm thinking he went in, spilled his guts and gave Fitzgerald everything he's using to blast holes in Scooter right now.

The note written by Mr. Libby will be a key piece of evidence in a false statement case against Mr. Libby if Mr. Fitzgerald decides to pursue it, according to lawyers in the case. It also explains why Mr. Fitzgerald waged a long legal battle to obtain the testimony of reporters who were known to have talked with Mr. Libby.

The reporters involved have said that they did not supply Mr. Libby with details about Mr. Wilson and his wife.
Okay, let me get this straight. Fitzgerald needs the reporters' testimonies to prove that Libby is lying about where he first heard about Valerie Wilson or whatever the hell they were calling her at the point. So fine, he gets verification from both Miller an Cooper that Scooter boy is telling fibs.

Presumably at that point Fitzgerald did not have Scooter's notes which indicate that Cheney told him, but now Fitz has them. So those must've materialized recently. Where did they come? And when? Is Scooter trying to play "Let's Make a Deal?" And is the fact that they were leaked to the press -- with all their damning implications for Cheney -- an indication that Scooter is no longer willing to fall on a sword for his boss?

Then there's this bit:
Mr. Russert, in a statement, has declined to say exactly what he discussed with Mr. Libby, but said he first learned the identity of Mr. Wilson’s wife in the column by Mr. Novak, which appeared on July 14, 2003.
G.E. Pumkinhead needs to come clean real fast or be consigned with Judy Miller to lecturing at the Barbezon school for disgraced reporters.

Comments are open for freelance tea leaf reading.

Update: Steve Clemons: "According to Scooter Libby's notes, George Tenet was the source for the information about Valerie Wilson lining up the trip -- so to speak -- for her husband, but did not necessarily include the information that she was a covert operative. This is where things get interesting. Although Fitzgerald may not need to establish this connection, it seems increasingly plausible to TWN that Tenet and Cheney had some kind of exchange regarding Joe and Valerie Wilson. Cheney then passed off the information to Libby along with a few expletives about Wilson, implying that the @#$%@%er should be done in."

Update II: Lisa in the comments reminds us of Big Dick's September 14, 2003 Press the Meat appearance :
VICE PRES. CHENEY: I don’t know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldn’t judge him. I have no idea who hired him and it never came...


VICE PRES. CHENEY: Who in the CIA, I don’t know.
One would imagine that Dick will be stepping down soon.

Update 3: Larry Johnson: "Although the NY Times story reports that Libby's notes indicate that George Tenet told Cheney about Plame, there are some intriguing unanswered questions. For starters it is highly unlikely that George Tenet showed up at the White House and just happened to know the name of Valerie Plame. Someone at the White House asked for it first. Tenet clearly came prepared to respond to a White House request. I'm sure the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, knows who called CIA to ask the question."