Water Man Spouts

Sunday, January 21, 2007

An Imperfect Chronology

"For every thing there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what has been planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace." – Ecclesiates 3:1-8

As we enter the week in which Patrick Fitzgerald’s opening statement will focus on truth, and in which President Bush’s state of the union address will justify his lies, it may be interesting to examine a partial history of the Plame scandal. What follows is not, of course, a complete history. Yet it may help us to see some of the patterns of I. Liar Libby’s behavior – those things he now says that he simply forgot.

1992: Scooter Libby and Paul Wolfowitz prepare a classified document for their boss, Dick Cheney, which is leaked to the press. It is a blueprint for empire, calling for a global US military presence to "establish and protect a new order," and to deter any "potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." (Where the Right Went Wrong; Patrick Buchanan; 2004; pages 42-43)

1992: Karl Rove is fired from President Bush1’s re-election campaign for leaking information to journalist Robert Novak. (Newsweek; 7-25-05; page 31)

January 26, 1998: The neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC) sends a letter to President Bill Clinton, requesting that he invade Iraq. http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

1999: Ambassador Joseph Wilson goes on a trip to Niger to investigate rumors about possible sale of yellow cake uranium. The trip is reportedly made for the CIA. (State Department memo; Carl W. Ford, Jr; 6-10-03; page 4)

January, 2001: "In foreign policy, demonstrating a policy that would soon be called ‘preemption’ with the overthrow of Saddam – despite Bush’s campaign pronouncements that the United States would be ‘humble’ in its global posture and never engage in ‘nation-building’ – was already a central mission." (The Price of Loyaltty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill; Ron Suskind; 2004; page 87)

September 15: "Wolfowitz seized the opportunity. Attacking Afghanistan would be uncertain. He worried about 100,000 American troops bogged down in mountain fighting in Afghanistan six months from then. In contrast, Iraq was a brittle, oppressive regime that might break easily. It was doable. He estimated that there was a 10 to 50 percent chance that Saddam was involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks. ….During a break, Bush joined a side discussion that included Cheney, Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, and Wolfowitz. … Wolfowitz expanded on his arguments about how a war against Iraq might be easier than against Afghanistan." (Bush At War; Bob Woodward; 2002; pages 83-84)

January, 2002: The first "reports" of a possible Niger-Iraq deal involving yellow cake uranium surface in the Bush administration. (The Politics of Truth; Joseph Wilson; 2004; page 452)

February 19, 2002: Joseph Wilson meets with people at the CIA, to discuss his taking a trip to Niger to investigate the Niger situation. (Wilson; page 452; // TIME; 7-25-05; page 26)

March, 2002: After he returns from Africa, Wilson briefs people at the CIA and State Department on his findings. (Wilson; page 452)

March 9, 2002: The CIA sends a memo to the White House, summarizing Wilson’s findings. (TIME; 7-25; page 26)

August, 2002: "Hadley and Libby were part of another secret office that had been set up within the White House. Known as the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), it was established in August 2002 by Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card, Jr., at the same time the OSP was established in Feith’s office. Made up of high-level administration officials, its job was to sell the war to the general public, largely through televised addresses and by selectively leaking the intelligence to the media." (A Pretext for War; James Bamford; 2004; page 318)

August, 2002: "The WHIG began priming its audience in August when Vice President Cheney, on three occasions, sounded a shrill alarm over Saddam Hussein’s nuclear threat." (Bamford; page 319)

September 14, 2002: "Saddam Hussein has the scientists and infrastructure for a nuclear-weapons program, and has illicitly sought to purchase the equipment needed to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon." President Bush’s weekly radio address.

October, 2002: "The Iraqi regime is seeking nuclear weapons. Does it make any sense for the world to wait …. For the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud?" President Bush, speech in Cincinnati.

October 10 & 11, 2002: Both the House and Senate pass resolutions that authorize the use of force against Iraq. (TIME; 7-25-05; page 26)

January 23, 2003: Condi Rice has an op-ed in the New York Times in which she discusses "Iraq’s efforts to get uranium from abroad."

January 28, 2003: "Then the president’s voice took on a different tone. He began to detail the horrible substances Saddam Hussein had not accounted for. To a hushed chamber, Bush recited the poisons …Then came the fateful and now famous sixteen words … All the while, Bush had spoken in a hushed voice, deliberately and dramatically emphasizing each frightening possibility, each deadly agent. It reminded me of my Boy Scout days, when theatrical scoutmasters would terrify youngsters with spooky tales around a campfire in the woods." (Losing America; Senator Robert Byrd; 2004; pages 181-182)

February 25, 2003: Secretary of State Colin Powell refuses to include the Niger yellow cake information in his presentation to the United Nations.

March, 2003: According to media analyst Andrew Tyndall, of the 414 stories on Iraq broadcast on the three major television networks – NBC, ABC, and CBS – all but 34 originated at the White House, the Pentagon, or the State Department. All but 34 of 414 stories on Iraq followed the Bush line. Mere coincidence? Not likely. Consultants told their media clients to play up the patriotism. One expert advised his broadcast clients in a ‘war manual’ to ‘get the following production pieces in the studio NOW … Patriotic music that makes you cry, salute, get cold chills! Go for the emotion {Washington Post, March 28, 2003}" (Byrd; page 142)

March 7, 2003: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announces that the Niger documents submitted by the United States are crude forgeries. (Wilson; page 452)

March 8, 2003: A State Department spokesperson tells the media that "We fell for it" in regard to the forgeries. Joseph Wilson tells CNN that the US government has "more information on this matter." He later learns that "soon after" this led to a meeting in the Office of Vice President Cheney, apparentlt led by Scooter Libby and Newt Gingrich, in which the WHIG decided to do a "work-up" on Wilson. (Wilson; page 452)

May 6, 2003: Nicholas Kristof has an article in the New York Times that exposes the White House lies on the Niger yellow cake.

May 29, 2003: Scooter "Libby asked an Under Secretary … for information concerning the unnamed ambassador’s travel to Niger to investigate claims about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium yellowcake. The Under Secretary thereafter directed the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research to prepare a report concerning the ambassador and his trip." (Libby Indictment; page 4)

June 8, 2003: On Meet the Press, Condi Rice denies knowledge of the Niger lies: "Maybe somebody down in the bowels of the Agency knew about this, but nobody in my circles."

June 9, 2003: "… a number of classified documents from the CIA were faxed to the Office of the Vice President to the personal attention of LIBBY and another person …. The faxed documents, which were marked as classified, discussed, among other things, Wilson and his trip to Niger, but did not mention Wilson by name. … LIBBY and one or more other persons in the Office of the Vice President handwrote the names ‘Wilson’ and ‘Joe Wilson’ on the documents." (Indictment; page 4)

June 10, 2003: Carl Ford, Jr. Sends his report on the Wilson trip to Under Secretary Grossman.

June 11, 2003: "If there were doubts about the underlying intelligence to that National Intelligence Estimate, those doubts were not communicated to the president, the vice president, or to me." Condi Rice at press briefing.

June 11, 2003: A Senior CIA official tells Libby about Valerie Plame. (TIME; 11-7-05; page 34)

June 11 or 12, 2003: Vice President Cheney tells Libby about Valerie Plame. (TIME; 11-7; page 34)

June 11 or 12, 2003: Grossman answers Libby’s questions about Wilson’s trip to Niger. (TIME; 11-7; page 34)

June 14, 2003: Libby’s CIA briefer tells him about Valerie Plame. (TIME; 11-7; page 34)

June 19, 2003: A story in The New Republic "The First Casualty: The Selling of the Iraq War" exposes OVP lies about Iraq. "Shortly after the publication …. Libby spoke by telephone with his then Principal Deputy and discussed the article. The official asked LIBBY whether information about Wilson’s trip could be shared with the press …. LIBBY responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line." (Indictment; page 6)

June/July, 2003: "In or about June or July 2003, and in no case later than on or about July 8, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA." (Indictment; page 13)

July 6, 2003: Joseph Wilson’s op-ed was published in the New York Times; he also appeared on Meet the Press.

July 7, 2003: Libby has lunch with Ari Fleischer. Libby tells him that it is "not well known" that Plame works for the CIA and played a role in sending Wilson to Niger. TIME called this "an invitation to Fleischer to leak it to a friendly reporter." (TIME; 11-7-05; page 37)

July 7, 2003: The State document is sent to Colin Powell on AF1 on a trip to Africa. Other White House officials are seen reading it openly. (TIME; 7-25-05)

July 8, 2003: Libby asks the Counsel to the OVP about paperwork regarding if a CIA employee’s spouse went on a trip. (Indictment; page 13)

July 8, 2003: {1} Rove speaks to Robert Novak, who plans to write about Plame; {2} Robert Novak tells a complete stranger on a Washington DC street about Plame; {3} Libby tells Judith Miller about Valerie Plame. (TIME; 11-7; and Wilson; 2004)

July 10, 2003: Rove talks to Libby about Novak’s plan to write about Plame. (Indictment)

July 10, 2003: Libby calls Tim Russert to complain about MSNBC’s Chris Matthews’ reporting in the war. (Hubris; Isikoff & Corn; 2006; pages 265-267)

July 11, 2003: Rove talks to Matt Cooper about Plame. (TIME; 11-7-05)

July 12, 2003: On AF2, Libby speaks with VP Cheney and Cathy Martin about how to deal with the media regarding the Wilson issue. Later that day, Libby tells both Matt Cooper and Judith Miller about Plame. (TIME; 11-7-05; Indictment; and Hubris)

July 14, 2003: Robert Novak’s column exposes Valerie Plame.

July 16, 2003: David Corn writes that the exposing of Plame may be criminal. (A white House Smear; The Nation)

July 20, 2003: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell tells Wilson that the White House is coordinating a campaign to smear him and his wife. (Wilson; page 453)

July 21, 2003: Chris Matthews calls Wilson to tell him about a phone call from Karl Rove, in which rove said, "Wilson’s wife is fair game." (Wilson; page 453)

September 29, 2003: The Department of Justice begins investigating.

September 29, 2003: Mike Allen and Dana Priest report that the White House had called at least six top journalists with information on Plame. (Washington Post)

October 14, 2003: Libby is interviewed by the FBI.

November 26, 2003: Libby is again interviewed by the FBI.

December 5, 2003: A senior White House official says, "We have rolled the earthmovers in over this one" in regard to the cover-up in the Plame case. (Financial Times; James Harding)

December 30, 2003: John Ashcroft recuses himself from the Plame investigation. James Comey assigns Patrick Fitzgerald.

January 21, 2004: TIME reports that a federal grand jury has begun investigating the Plame scandal.

February 5, 2004: UPI’s Richard Sale reports that two people in the OVP are suspects in the case.

March 5, 2004: Tom Brune reports the grand jury has issued subpoenas for AF1 phone logs from July 7-12, and for all WHIG records from July 6-30.

March 5, 2004: Libby testifies in front of the grand jury.

March 24, 2004: Libby again testifies.

October 28, 2005: The grand jury indicts Libby.

This is not a complete record of the scandal. I encourage readers to fill in the blanks.


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