News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Career Lawyer Gets Oversight of CIA Probe - Yahoo! News

By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer

David Margolis, a lawyer at the Justice Department for 40 years, was named Friday to oversee a special prosecutor's investigation of who in the Bush administration disclosed the name of an undercover CIA officer.

Margolis, whose title is associate deputy attorney general, is taking the place of Deputy Attorney General James Comey, whose last day of work was Friday. Comey will be Lockheed Martin's new general counsel.

Comey made the designation of Margolis. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has stepped aside from the probe because he was White House counsel when Valerie Plame's name was leaked in 2003 and he has testified to the grand jury investigating the unauthorized disclosure.

Comey gave broad discretion to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago when he was appointed to investigate the leak in December 2003. Margolis is not expected to alter Fitzgerald's mandate in what are likely to be the final months of his investigation. The grand jury ends its term in October.

No one has been charged in the Plame case. However, it's known that Karl Rove, a top aide to President Bush, and Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, discussed Plame with reporters before her name was first published by columnist Robert Novak in July 2003.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller has been jailed since July 6 for refusing to tell prosecutors to whom she talked about Plame.

The departure of Comey, who had been second in command at the Justice Department since 2003, leaves vacancies in two key posts. Christopher Wray resigned as head of the Criminal division in May.

President Bush has nominated Timothy E. Flanigan, once Gonzales' deputy in the White House, to take Comey's job. Alice Fisher has been nominated to lead the criminal division.

Neither has been confirmed. Flanigan faced tough questioning in his Senate confirmation hearing about his role in allowing aggressive interrogation techniques be used on detainees from Afghanistan and Iraq and his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record), R-Pa., the Judiciary Committee chairman, indicated he might oppose Flanigan's confirmation because he didn't like his answers. A committee vote on Flanigan has not been scheduled, and the committee will begin hearings on John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court when Congress returns to work in September.

Fisher's nomination had been held up through July by at least two senators, one Republican, one Democrat. Sen. Charles Grassley (news, bio, voting record), R-Iowa, was seeking to question an FBI agent about a delay in obtaining a wiretap in a terrorism financing investigation. Grassley lifted his objection after meeting with Gonzales.

Sen. Carl Levin (news, bio, voting record), D-Mich., also met with Gonzales, but he continues to hold up Fisher's nomination because he wants to talk directly to an agent who wrote an e-mail about allegedly abusive interrogations at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval facility.

"In my weekly meetings with DOJ we often discussed (Defense Department) techniques and how they were not effective or producing intel that was reliable," the agent wrote. In his next sentence, he said Fisher, then the No. 2 in the criminal division, was among department officials who attended all the meetings.

Fisher has said she did not recall taking part in such discussions and Justice officials have said the agent did not intend to say she had. But Gonzales has refused to let senators question the agent, saying it violates long-standing policy.

After failing to persuade Levin to let Fisher's nomination proceed, Gonzales went public with the dispute, saying the vacancy was especially inopportune following terror attacks in England and Egypt in July.

Comey's departure "makes it imperative that key national security officials, such as Ms. Fisher, be confirmed so that the department is able to adequately respond to whatever emergencies may arise," Gonzales said in a letter to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

'Vanity Fair' Rips Media 'Conspiracy' in Covering Up Role in Plame Scandal

By Greg Mitchell

Published: August 11, 2005 9:00 PM ET

NEW YORK In an article in the September issue of Vanity Fair (not yet online), Michael Wolff, in probing the Plame/CIA leak scandal, rips those in the news media -- principally Time magazine and The New York Times -- who knew that Karl Rove was one of the leakers but refused to expose what would have been “one of the biggest stories of the Bush years.” Not only that, “they helped cover it up.” You might say, he adds, they “became part of a conspiracy.”

If they had burned this unworthy source and exposed his “crime,” he adds, it would have been “of such consequences that it might, reasonably, have presaged the defeat of the president, might have even -- to be slightly melodramatic -- altered the course of the war in Iraq.” In doing so they showed they owed their greatest allegiance to the source, not their readers.

And their source was no Deep Throat, not someone with dirt on the government -- the source “was the government.”

So in the end, he concludes, “the greatest news organizations in the land had a story about a potential crime that reached as close as you can get to the president himself and they punted, they swallowed it, they self-dealt.” And why did they do it? Well, “a source is a source who, unrevealed, will continue to be a source.”

Even after the news first emerged last month that Rove had leaked to Cooper, the media still waited days to even ask the White House press secretary about it. It was a story, "in full view, the media just ignored."

The title of the Wolff article is "All Roads Lead to Rove."

Wolff mocks Time’s Matt Cooper and Norman Pearlstine and can’t seem to make heads or tails of “genuinely spooky” Robert Novak. He holds off full judgment on the Times’ jailed reporter Judith Miller, while noting the "baloney" she retailed for the White House. But he pointedly notes, concerning Miller, that reporters are born “blabbermouths” and even when they don’t write or print a certain story they are prone to “serve it up to everybody they know.”

He closes with a frontal blast at the media, many members of which will soon be exposed, he predicts, for having “lined up for these lies” spun by the White House.