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

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bush aide denies ties to fake Iraq-Niger documents - Yahoo! News

By Adam Entous

President George W. Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, denied on Wednesday that he or his staff received fake documents in 2002 that showed Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger, a claim that formed part of the administration's case for going to war.

After consulting with a member of his staff "to refresh my memory," Hadley told reporters that the documents were first obtained by the State Department and then shared with the CIA, and that he does not recall ever discussing the issue with Italian intelligence officials.

"Suffice to say they didn't come to me. They didn't come to the NSC," Hadley said, referring to the National Security Council.

Bush, in making a case for war in his 2003 State of the Union address, said there was evidence that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa to further apparent nuclear-weapons ambitions. Bush cited British intelligence as the source of the information.

The FBI has been investigating the origin of the forged documents. U.S. officials have said in the past that the information was partly traced back to Italian intelligence sources.

The White House acknowledged after the war that the intelligence was faulty and Hadley took the blame for the reference that showed up in Bush's State of the Union speech.

According to reports in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Italian intelligence helped pass off forged documents that accused Iraq of trying to buy 500 tons of "yellowcake" uranium from Niger.

Focus has centered on Hadley because of his September 9, 2002, meeting with Italy's intelligence chief, Nicolo Pollari.

Exactly one month later, on October 9, 2002, an Italian journalist provided the U.S. Embassy in Rome with copies of documents about the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium sale, according to a U.S. congressional investigation. Copies of the documents were then sent to State Department headquarters and the CIA, the congressional report said.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's office said last week that the government and Italian intelligence had no "direct or indirect role in the fabrication and the transmission of the 'fake dossier on Niger uranium."'

Backing up Berlusconi's account, the White House said earlier this week that U.S. officials who attended the September 9, 2002, meeting do not remember any discussion of the Niger claim or any exchange of documents.


Pollari is due to address an Italian parliamentary committee overseeing the intelligence service on Thursday at a closed-door meeting called to discuss the latest claims.

Asked if he or any member of his staff met with Italian intelligence outside the White House when the issue was discussed, Hadley said: "I can tell you my recollection. My recollection is no, not here, not anyplace else."

The Niger documents were declared forgeries by the International Atomic Energy Agency in March 2003.

The Niger issue has attracted renewed attention as U.S. special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald wraps up his investigation into the leak of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. As part of his investigation, Fitzgerald has asked witnesses about the Niger report.

Bush's 2003 uranium claim fueled criticism from Plame's husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, that the administration twisted intelligence to bolster its case for war.

Wilson based his criticism in part on a CIA-sponsored mission he made to Africa in 2002 to check out reports that Iraq sought uranium from Niger. Wilson said the report was unsubstantiated, and later accused the White House of leaking his wife's identity in retaliation.

Is Rove a Security Risk? - Newsweek Politics -

By Jonathan Alter
Updated: 2:18 p.m. ET Nov. 2, 2005

Nov. 2, 2005 - The conventional wisdom in Washington this week is that Karl Rove is out of the woods. But while an indictment against him in the Valerie Plame leak case is now unlikely, he may be in danger of losing his security clearance.

According to last week’s indictment of Scooter Libby, a person identified as “Official A” held conversations with reporters about Plame’s identity as a an undercover CIA operative, information that was classified. News accounts subsequently confirmed that that official was Rove. Under Executive Order 12958, signed by President Clinton in 1995, such a disclosure is grounds for, at a minimum, losing access to classified information.

Section 5.1 of Clinton’s executive order prohibits “any knowing, willful or negligent action that could reasonably be expected to result in an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.” While the law against revealing the identity of a CIA operative requires that the perpetrator intentionally disclosed such classified information (a high standard, which may be one reason Fitzgerald did not indict on those grounds), the executive order covers “negligence,” or unintentional disclosure.

That means the only proper answer to a reporter’s questions about Joseph Wilson’s wife would have been something along the lines of, “You know I cannot discuss who may or may not be in the CIA.” The indictment makes clear that this was not the answer Official A provided when the subject was discussed with reporters Bob Novak and Matt Cooper.

The sanctions for such disclosure are contained in Section 5.7 of the executive order. That section says that “the agency head, senior agency official or other supervisory official shall, at a minimum, promptly remove the classification authority of any individual who demonstrates reckless disregard or a pattern of error in applying the classification standards of this order.” Any reasonable reading of the events covered in the indictment would consider Rove’s behavior “reckless.” The fact that he discussed Plame’s identity with reporters more than once constitutes a pattern.

In the past, other officials have lost their security clearances for similar disclosures—even without a pattern. Former CIA director John Deutch and former national-security adviser Sandy Berger (who got in trouble after leaving office) both lost their clearances when they took classified information home without proper authorization. More recently, officials of the Coast Guard were sanctioned when they warned relatives of a possible terrorist threat against the New York City subways before public disclosure of the threat.

Ironically, Valerie Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, almost certainly engaged in unauthorized disclosure of classified material himself when he wrote publicly about his CIA-backed mission to Niger, though he no longer has a security clearance to lift.

Because Rove’s apparent violation is covered by executive order, not legislated law, the issue of his security clearance is unlikely to wind up in criminal court. But he may face a civil suit from the Wilsons, who could seek damages because of the damage done to Plame’s CIA career by the leak.

Having his security clearance yanked would not require Rove to resign as deputy chief of staff to President Bush. But it would prevent him from taking part in policymaking that relates to national-security issues, which would mean a much-reduced role in the Bush White House. Some Democrats have asked the president to apologize for the Plame leak case—an unlikely event. But asking him to enforce executive orders could be a more legitimate line of inquiry. At a minimum, President Bush should be asked whether he believes this executive order applies to everyone in the White House—even Karl Rove.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.

The Raw Story | Bolton's chief of staff gave information on outed agent to Libby, lawyers involved in leak case say

11/02/2005 @ 2:50 pm
Filed by Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold

John Bolton, the former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs who is now the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was contacted by I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in late May 2003 to find out who sent Ambassador Joseph Wilson on a fact-finding mission to Niger to investigate reports that Iraq had tried to purchase yellowcake uranium from the African country, lawyers involved in the CIA outing investigation told RAW STORY over the weekend.

The attorneys, along with intelligence officials, have provided RAW STORY additional insight into the unnamed identities of key players referred to in the five-count indictment against Libby, who resigned last Friday as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.

Specifically, they relayed what two key prosecution witnesses now cooperating with the probe told Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald about the events that led to Libby learning about Wilson’s mission and Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity. Plame Wilson, the wife of the former ambassador, was outed as a CIA agent working on weapons of mass destruction issues after Wilson begin criticizing the Bush Administration's failed Iraq intelligence.

Randall Samborn, Fitzgerald's spokesman, told RAW STORY he could not comment or offer “guidance” on the specifics of this story.

The 22-page indictment posted on Fitzgerald’s website Friday says that on May 29, 2003 Libby “asked an Under Secretary of State (“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. The Under Secretary provided Libby with interim oral reports in late May and early June 2003, and advised Libby that Wilson was the former ambassador who took the trip.”

News reports have identified the Undersecretary as Marc Grossman. This is technically correct, in that he is the one who had received the June 10, 2003 classified Intelligence and Research memo for Libby about Wilson’s Niger trip, in addition to information about Plame’s covert CIA status and her relationship to Wilson.

But the attorneys said that two former Libby aides, John Hannah and David Wurmser, told the special prosecutor that Libby had actually first contacted Bolton to dig up the information. Wurmser, who worked as a Middle Eastern affairs aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was on loan from Bolton’s office.

Both Wurmser and Hannah have been cooperating with Fitzgerald's probe for some time, the lawyers said.

In addition, sources say that the memo was written on Libby’s behest as part of a work-up order orchestrated out of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which operated out of the Cheney’s office and was chaired by Special Advisor to President Bush, Karl Rove.

How Plame’s name got to Libby

Grossman asked Carl Ford, the Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, to write the memo. Ford is the State Department official who testified before a the Senate Foreign Relations Committee against Bolton during his unsuccessful UN confirmation hearings and described Bolton as a “bully.”

Bolton was later appointed to the UN during a Congressional recess. His name came up several times during the course of the two-year investigation into Plame’s outing, notably when he paid a visit to the federal prison where New York Times reporter Judith Miller was housed for refusing to testify in the case.

The attorneys also said that Frederick Fleitz, Bolton's chief of staff who was concurrently a senior CIA Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation, and Arms Control official, supplied Bolton with Plame’s identity. Bolton passed this to his aide, Wurmser, who in turn supplied the information to Hannah, they added.

Upon receiving this information, Libby asked Bolton for a report on Wilson’s trip to Niger, which Wilson presented orally to the CIA upon his return. Fleitz was one of a handful of officials who was in a position to know Plame’s maiden name, the sources said.

Fleitz is named in the indictment as an unnamed CIA senior officer, they added.

Fleitz had long history with Bolton

The indictment cites Fleitz’s CIA role, but not his on-loan status to Bolton’s office. It reads, “On or about June 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke with a senior officer of the CIA to ask about the origin and circumstances of Wilson’s trip, and was advised by the CIA officer that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and was believed to be responsible for sending Wilson on the trip.”

Fleitz has been a trusted source of information to Bolton for some time and vice versa. In his book, “Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions, and U.S. Interests,” Fleitz thanked Bolton for advising him on research and providing him with guidance in writing the book.

It has long been rumored that Bolton had his own connections to agents at the CIA who shared his political philosophy on Iraq. Greg Thielman, a former director at the State Department who was assigned to Bolton and entrusted with providing the former under secretary of state with intelligence information, told New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh that Bolton had become frustrated that Thielman was not providing him with smoking gun intelligence information on Iraq that he wanted to hear.

“He surrounded himself with a hand-chosen group of loyalists, and found a way to get CIA information directly,” Thielman said in Hersh's book, “Chain of Command.” (Page 223)

“In essence, the undersecretary (Bolton) would be running his own intelligence operation, without any guidance or support,” Hersh wrote. (Page 222)

“Eventually, Thielman said, Bolton demanded that he and his staff have direct electronic access to sensitive intelligence, such as foreign agent reports and electronic intercepts," according to the book. "In previous administrations, such data had been made available to undersecretaries only after it was analyzed, usually in the specific secured offices of the INR.” (Page 222)

Bolton testified to grand jury, MSNBC said

According to MSNBC, Bolton testified before the grand jury investigating the Plame leak. Questions were raised about whether Bolton knowingly left that fact out of the questionnaire related to his UN confirmation hearing.

Wurmser likely cooperated because he faced criminal charges for his role in leaking Wilson's name on the orders of higher-ups, the lawyers said. Hannah, a key aide to Vice President Dick Cheney and one of the architects of the Iraq war, was cooperating with Fitzgerald after being told that he was identified by witnesses as a co-conspirator in the leak, they added.

It is unclear whether Bolton played any other role in the Plame outing, but his connection to the Iraq uranium claims certainly gave him a motive to discredit Wilson, who had called into question the veracity of the Niger documents. A probe by the State Department Inspector General revealed that Bolton’s office was responsible for the placement of the Niger uranium claims in the State Department’s December 2002 “fact sheet” on Iraq’s WMD program.

The attorneys said it is unlikely that the information Hannah and Wurmser had provided Fitzgerald and included in the indictment will ever become public, but their testimony in the case was crucial in that it allowed Fitzgerald to put together a timeline that showed how various governmental agencies knew about Plame’s covert CIA status.

United Press International - Security & Terrorism - Rumsfeld can't recall discussing Plame

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday he could not recall if he spoke to Vice President Dick Cheney about outed CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted by a federal grand jury last week for allegedly lying to federal agents and obstructing an investigation into the leak that revealed Plame's identity.

"How would I know if I ever spoke about it with the vice president over five years?" Rusmfeld said at a Pentagon press conference Tuesday. "I don't recall speaking with him about it, and I don't recall the department being involved. Is it possible? I mean, my goodness, that's -- that question is such a -- it's -- what is that game? Fish. Give me all your sevens or something. I mean, that's not for me."

Plame was an undercover CIA agent who is married to former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson. In early 2002 Wilson traveled to Niger on behalf of the CIA to investigate claims that Iraq was seeking uranium from that country. He says he found no evidence supporting this. In June 2003, Wilson wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times explaining his findings and criticizing the White House's case for war with Iraq, which was based in part on the allegations about the Niger uranium. President Bush had cited the information in his January 2003 State of the Union address as part of his case that Saddam Hussein was actively seeking nuclear weapons.

The indictment alleges that Libby and other White House officials, including Cheney, discussed "whether information about Wilson's trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson," and that Libby subsequently did reveal Plame's identity to reporters, and lied about having done so under oath.

It is a crime to knowingly reveal the identities of covert CIA operatives.

Plamegate's real liar - Los Angeles Times

Max Boot

November 2, 2005

'SCOOTER" LIBBY'S indictment was not exactly good news for the White House, but it could have been a lot worse. Feverish speculation had been building that Karl Rove would soon be "frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs," as Valerie Plame's bombastic hubby, Joe Wilson, had hoped. Or even that Dick Cheney would have to resign.

But with his investigation all but over, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has found no criminal conspiracy and no violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which makes it a crime in some circumstances to disclose the names of undercover CIA operatives. Among other problems, Plame doesn't seem to fit the act's definition of a "covert agent" — someone who "has within the last five years served outside the United States." By 2003, Plame had apparently been working in Langley, Va., for at least six years, which means that, mystery of mysteries, the vice president's chief of staff was indicted for covering up something that wasn't a crime.

Making the best of a weak hand, Democrats argued that the case was not about petty-ante perjury but, as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid put it, "about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president." The problem here is that the one undisputed liar in this whole sordid affair doesn't work for the administration. In his attempts to turn his wife into an antiwar martyr, Joseph C. Wilson IV has retailed more whoppers than Burger King.

The least consequential of these fibs was his denial that it was his wife who got him sent to Niger in February 2002 to check out claims that Saddam Hussein had tried to buy uranium. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence later stated, in a bipartisan report, that evidence indicated it was Mrs. Wilson who "had suggested his name for the trip." By leaking this fact to the news media, Libby and other White House officials were merely setting the record straight — not, as Wilson would have it, punishing his Mata Hari wife.

Much more egregious were the ways in which Wilson misrepresented his findings. In his famous New York Times Op-Ed article (July 6, 2003), Wilson gave the impression that his eight-day jaunt proved that Iraq was not trying to acquire uranium in Africa. Therefore, when administration officials nevertheless cited concerns about Hussein's nuclear ambitions, Wilson claimed that they had "twisted" evidence "to exaggerate the Iraqi threat." The Senate Intelligence Committee was not kind to this claim either.

The panel's report found that, far from discrediting the Iraq-Niger uranium link, Wilson actually provided fresh details about a 1999 meeting between Niger's prime minister and an Iraqi delegation. Beyond that, he had not supplied new information. According to the panel, intelligence analysts "did not think" that his findings "clarified the story on the reported Iraq-Niger uranium deal." In other words, Wilson had hardly exposed as fraudulent the "16 words" included in the 2003 State of the Union address: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." In fact, the British government, in its own post-invasion review of intelligence, found that this claim was "well founded."

This is not an isolated example. Pretty much all of the claims that the administration doctored evidence about Iraq have been euthanized, not only by the Senate committee but also by the equally bipartisan Robb-Silberman commission. The latest proof that intelligence was not "politicized" comes from an unlikely source — Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, who has been denouncing the hawkish "cabal" supposedly leading us toward "disaster." Yet, in between bouts of trashing the administration, Wilkerson said on Oct. 19 that "the consensus of the intelligence community was overwhelming" that Hussein was building illicit weapons. This view was endorsed by "the French, the Germans, the Brits." The French, of all people, even offered "proof positive" that Hussein was buying aluminum tubes "for centrifuges." Wilkerson also recalled seeing satellite photos "that would lead me to believe that Saddam Hussein, at least on occasion, was … giving us disinformation."

So much for the lies that led to war. What we're left with is the lies that led to the antiwar movement. Good thing for Wilson and his pals that deceiving the press and the public isn't a crime.