Water Man Spouts

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dick Armitage vs Stephen Hadley

{1} "That Armitage is the likely source is a fair assumption"
-- quote attributed to Ben Bradlee by Marie Brenner, Vanity Fair, 3-14-06
There was an interesting response to the "news" that Ben Bradlee had revealed the secret identity of Bob Woodward's source of Valerie Plame's identity to a Vanity Fair reporter. Even on progressive internet sites, I noted that some who are sincerely interested in the case stated that Bradlee had confirmed that Woodward's source was Dick Armitage. While it is certainly possible that Armitage did tell Woodward about Valerie Plame, it may be worth our taking a closer look.
First, we should note that this is at best a distraction from the actual grand jury investigation and the court case of Scooter Libby. On February 24, 2006, Jason Leopold reported, "In another development in the leak case Friday, U.S. Judge Reggie B. Walton said another administration official, who does not work at the White House, also spoke to reporters about Plame Wilson. This individual, according to sources close to the case, works at the National Security Council.
"Walton said that Libby's defense team is not entitled to be told of the individual's identity because the person is not charged with a crime in the leak. However, the person is said to be one of several people in the administration who is cooperating with the probe." ("White House 'Discovers' 250 Emails Related to Plame Leak"; TruthOut; 2-24-06)
On February 25, 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported, "Walton also said Fitzgerald could keep secret the identity of another government official who allegedly revealed the identity of Plame to journalists before Robert Novak first disclosed it July 14, 2003, in a syndicated column. .... Libby's lawyers apparently were targeting a third official who talked with reporters during that period, including Washington Post reporter and editor Bob Woodward." ("Libby's Team Plans to Subpoena Media" by Richard Schmitt)
Also, in his article yesterday, Jim VandeHei noted, "Fitzgerald has not concluded his investigation, but people involved in the case said he has not shown interest in Woodward or his source since Woodward testified last year." ("Magazine: Bradlee Knows Woodward's Source on Plame"; Washington Post; 3-14-06)
While the identity of Woodward's source is not at issue in the grand jury investigation or in Libby's case, it is apparently one of the things the supporters of Libby want to use to distract the public. Thus, let us introduce some "evidence" of interest into the court of public opinion.
{2} "The basis for this was an unsubstantiated report from British intelligence that Iraq had recently attempted to buy uranium oxide, known as 'yellowcake,' from Niger. The CIA was unsure of this for a number of reasons and had shared its concerns with the British. A former ambassador, Joseph Wilson IV, had been sent to Niger to check out the report and had found nothing to substantiate it. The CIA memo recommended that any reference be dropped from the Cincinnati speech, and it was."
-- Bob Woodward; "Plan of Attack; page 202
Soon after Patrick Fitzgerald announced that he had indicted Scooter Libby on five offenses related to the Plame scandal, and stated that Libby was the "first known" administration official to leak Plame's identity to journalists, Bob Woodward remembered something important. An administration official had told him in a " 'casual' and off-handed manner that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA." ("CIA Leak Path: Cheney, Libby, Woodward"; Jason Leopold; TruthOut; 3-6-06)
In a November, 2005 appearance on Larry King Live, Woodward went into more detail: "I went, 'Whoa,' because I knew I'd learned this in mid-June, a week, ten days before. I then went into incredibly aggressive reporting mode and called the source the beginning of the next week," and the source said to Woodward at least three times "I have to go to the prosecutor." ("Woodward Provides Clues about His Source"; Jason Leopold; TruthOut; 11-22-05)
Leopold's article later notes that Woodward "made a stunning announcement last week when he revealed that he was told about Plame Wilson in mid-June 2003 by 'current or former administration officials'." Hence, from Woodward's earliest accounts, it is clear that he was less than honest with his audience when he "publicly discounted the importance of the Plame Wilson leak and had referred to Fitzgerald as a 'junkyard dog' prosecutor." (Leopold; 3-6-06)
It is worth our noting that in his 468-page book, "Plan of Attack," the #1 national bestseller described by the New York Times Book Review as, "Instantly essential ... By far the most intimate glimpse we have been granted of the Bush White House, and the administration's defining moment," Mr. Woodward's entire examination of the Wilson/Plame/yellowcake scandal is found in the single paragraph quoted above. Some "incredibly aggressive reporting mode," there! If Mr. Fitzgerald is a "junkyard dog," I suppose it is fair to describe Mr. Woodward as a "lap dog" for the administration.
{3} "I don't think I said it."
-- Ben Bradlee; Washington Post; March 14, 2006
According to Jim VandeHei's article yesterday, Bob Woodward did not tell Ben Bradlee who his source -- or perhaps sources, if "current or former administration officials" is accurate. Bradlee was told by someone else. Woodward is quoted in the article as saying, "He is not in the management loop on this. Maybe he was alerted from somebody else, if in fact he did learn" the identity. Bradlee is quoted as saying, "I know who his source is, and I don't want to get into it ... I have not told a soul who it is."
Thus, Ben Bradlee could not "confirm" the identity of Woodward's source. At very most, he could confirm that someone other than Woodward had told them who they believed the source was. There is a fair amount of interest in this, in part because of Judge Walton's recent ruling, and in part because of friends of Libby and Judith Miller are attempting to make it an issue.
Last night on MSNBC, Norah O'Donnell reported on CountDown that numerous people "know" who the source actually is, but none will tell her, even off the record, who it is.
Yesterday, on The Huffington Post, Larisa Alexandrovna, ripped the Vanity Fair article, and told readers abouther work on the team that had identified Woodward's source as Steve Hadley. She noted that the Vanity Fair articcle "was written by Judy Miller's best friend, Marie Brenner," and in a wonderful line said, "In Brenner's 'I love Judy please believe her' article" had misrepresented Bradlee's "it is reasonable to assume" as an eye-witness identification.
{4} "A few days after Rice's interview, the House and Senate Intelligence Committees announced that they were going to look into the prewar intelligence, including the uranium claim. I called the staffs of both committees and volunteered to brief them about my trip and findings. I ended up briefing them separately within a few days of each other in mid-June, disclosing what I knew to the appropriate oversight bodies."
-- Joseph Wilson; "The Politics of Truth"; page 419
In his article "Woodward Provides Clues about His Source" (TruthOut; 11-22-05), Jason Leopold quotes from a Washington Post article that identifies Stephen Hadley as serving as the liaison between the White House and Senate Intelligence Committee. Hadley was helping to "sift through intelligence with the help of the CIA," and attempting to identify what classified information could be released without damaging the agency or national security. One can conclude that it is likely that the administration, which had begun its "work up" on Wilson in March, was aware that he had briefed the congressional agencies.
In "Plame Whistleblowers Targeted by Administration" (TruthOut; 2-24-06), Leopold notes that sources said witnesses in the grand jury investigation had testified that "Stephen Hadley had worked directly with senior officials from Vice President Cheney's office -- including Libby, Cheney's National Security Adviser John Hannah, and White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove --during the month of June to coordinate a response to reporters who had phoned the vice president's office and the NSC about the administration's use of the Niger documents."
In his article, Leopold wrote that Woodward, by narrowing the dates of his conversation with his "source," helped boil down the list of potential suspects "to two: National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage." A Time magazine article (7-31) had provided information that appears to create a time frame that reduces the chances of Armitage being the source. But, more importantly, Leopold notes, "However, attorneys close to Fitzgerald's probe have fingered Hadley as Woodward's source."
Larisa Alexandrovna also noted, "Hadley as Woodward's source was also confirmed by The Sunday London Times." ("Karl Shoots Blanks at Plame"; 3-15-06)
{5} "I've also seen press reports from White House officials saying that I am not one of his sources. It is what it is."
--Steve Hadley; response to reporters' asking if he was Woodward's source
Neither of these "suspects" has either confirmed or denied that they were Woodward's source. I think that it is interesting to consider if Stephen Hadley, Dick Armitage, or someone else told Woodward about Wilson's wife working at the CIA. Could it be both? Neither? Someone else? And was the source (or one of them) also Bob Novak's source?
I believe Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold's reports are accurate. Of course, their sources could be mistaken. But they seem to have far better information that a quote Ben Bradlee may have made, but which appears to have been -- at very best -- taken out of context by Judith Miller's friend.
Finally, as Judge Reggie Walton ruled, it is of no significance in Scooter Libby's trial.."


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