Volokh Conspiracy on Wilson on NBC on Rove on Plame

Instapundit points out a post by Jim Lindgrin on the Volokh Conspiracy about Joseph Wilson’s appearance on NBC’s The Today Show. It’s good and you should really go read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

As the Washington Post reported: “According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998.” So Wilson had found evidence that tended to confirm the substance of the sentence in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

The bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee 2004 report exposed Wilson’s lies on what he found and told the CIA, as well as the one about how Wilson was hired.

Wilson said that his wife Valerie Plame had nothing to do with his being hired: “Valerie had nothing to do with the matter.” “She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip.” But the 2004 Senate Intelligence report said that she first suggested him for the trip and then followed up with a memo touting his suitability for the mission.

It would be great if NBC TODAY would probe Wilson on these matters. The Wall Street Journal says that Wilson had started lying to the press and public about how he was hired before his wife was outed, in part by Rove. Correcting this lie (were Plame not a covert agent) not only would be a smart partisan thing to do, but it would be the right thing to do. Wilson was publicly lying about what he found in Niger, publicly lying about what he reported to the CIA, and (according to the WSJ) publicly lying about how he was hired. Except for the “covert agent” issue, it would be right to correct all these lies. Indeed, reporter Cooper’s email reveals that Rove was offering a “big warning” “not to get too far out on Wilson,” a warning that the press should have heeded but didn’t. They believed Wilson, only to find out that his account was untrue.

This touches on something that I’ve wondered about. Wilson and others are completely free to run around and say whatever they want about this issue knowing full well that the proof to disprove their remarks (if it exists) is contained in classified reports or would reveal things about the intelligence community that cannot be revealed.

It’s sort of like how most of Legacy Media is running around shouting about how Karl Rove is the one who revealed Valerie Plame and that President Bush should suffer for it. But when the courts attempt to determine who, in fact, is the one who revealed this secret, those same Legacy Media types take out full-page adds in newspapers arguing that reporters shouldn’t be made to reveal confidential sources.

They’re having so much fun with the source being secret, why would they ever want it to be out in the open?

This reminds me a bit of a certain line of questioning put toward then-NSA Condeleeza Rice during the 9/11 Commission hearings by Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste. He badgered her about the title to the infamous 08/06/2001 Presidential Daily Brief, but he certainly didn’t want to discuss the brief itself. I wrote at the time:

Why did Ben-Veniste go after Rice so hard on the 8/6 PDB? In case you have missed it, or at least missed the unedited version, here it is again:

BEN-VENISTE: Isn’t it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?

RICE: I believe the title was, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.”

Now, the…

BEN-VENISTE: Thank you.

RICE: No, Mr. Ben-Veniste…

BEN-VENISTE: I will get into the…

RICE: I would like to finish my point here.

BEN-VENISTE: I didn’t know there was a point.

RICE: Given that — you asked me whether or not it warned of attacks.

BEN-VENISTE: I asked you what the title was.

RICE: You said, did it not warn of attacks. It did not warn of attacks inside the United States. It was historical information based on old reporting. There was no new threat information. And it did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

Ben-Veniste certainly wanted the title out, and he got it. However, as has been extensively discussed elsewhere, he apparently screwed up by accidentally asking if the PDB warned of attacks. Rice caught him, and he paid dearly.

Now, Ben-Veniste had seen the PDB, so he knew exactly what it said. And, even though some will choose to interpret it more harshly than others, he must have known that it certainly wasn’t a smoking gun, or even a loaded gun. It wasn’t even a gun, really. It just noted that a gun may, in fact, exist somewhere.

Why, since he must have known all of this, did he work Rice to get the title out? Did he hope that the title alone would implicate the administration? Yes, but why didn’t he think the contents would be released?

Thursday evening, while watching the testimony, I stopped and replayed that segment several times. My wife, who was already fed up with Ben-Veniste, asked why he was pushing that angle so hard. I responded that there were two main possibilities: 1) The briefing contained classified information – though not 9/11-specific – that precluded its release, so he wanted to use the title to score points, knowing it would never see the light of day. Or, 2) The briefing DID contain 9/11-specific information, and he was trying to force the administration into releasing it. [emphasis added]

When the PDB was, in fact, released a couple of days later, Ben-Viniste was revealed to have no legs to stand on.

Legacy Media has been building up to this “burn Rove” frenzy for so long, the last thing they want to happen is for the actual perpetrator (if it, indeed, was a crime) to be identified.

Normally, someone would have to be proven guilty before this sort of mania caught on. But they seem to be traipsing along, not a care in the world, happily smearing Rove as they go. Is it because they know that the actual evidence will never see the light of day and their game won’t end until they tire of it?

We’ll see.


  1. You are correct about Bev-Veniste trying to aquire the release of a then classified document by centering on the title. However you are incorrect about him not having a leg to stand on with the PDB’s content. Most republicans will center on the 3rd to last paragraph as being admonishment of GW’s ignorance which reads: ‘We have not been able to corroberate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a (name blacked out) service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of ”Blind Shayakh” Umar Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.’ However the paragraph right after that states: ‘Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates suspicious patterns of activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of Federal buildings in New York.’ So not only was pertenint information ignored but the intelligence community was recieving lots of warnings throughout the summer of 2001 including ‘ominus chatter’ of an impending attack, and these were relayed to the President. Plus GW had reqested the 08/06/01 PDB because of those warnings. According to Richard Clarke similar warning were given to Clinton in Dec 1999 and his response was completly different from GW’s. Because of Clinton’s response an attack on LAX was prevented, but he recieves little credit for that. So failing where someone else succeeded is not very excusable hence the tough line of questioning by Ben-Veniste. And before you call Clarke a partisan hack you should look up his service record which includes Reagan’s and George HW’s administrations. Incidently Clarke held a cabinet level position for Clinton’s administration and was demoted for GW’s for reasons unknown even though GW was told repeatedly not just by Clarke that Al Qaeda was going to be his top problem in the world. I have a link to the PDB in case you haven’t seen it: http://www.cbsnews.com/htdocs/pdf/pdb_080601.pdf Just read it as if you were the President, and draw your own conclusion based on what you should have known about previous Al Qaeda encounters. We’ll see if you call the title vague, and consider this historic data failing to outline a clear and present threat. Consistently, simple minded folks think alike. And if he isn’t simple minded then he knew that any incident on US soil would enable his powers of war mongering.

  2. Peon: Yes, I’m aware of the complete content of the PDB. It was discussed here (and many, many, many other places) in depth at the time. For anyone to look at that PDB and expect someone to do something specific based upon the contents is totally preposterous. Again, this was discussed in depth here and in other places at the time. And, for the sake of argument, if something WAS to be done based on the PDB, it would have pointed to hijackings for negotiating purposes, action against federal buildings in New York, or attacks with explosives. None of which happened. That’s the ‘pertinent information’ that was ‘ignored’ in the PDB.

  3. Don’t forget to look up Richard Clarke, and Clinton’s response in Dec 1999, and don’t forget what I said: ‘simple minded folks think alike.’ These are thoughts for our future. Complex problems require complex solutions, not simple invasions…that was also Nazi solution remember.

  4. Oh, and while I’m at you said: ‘And, for the sake of argument, if something WAS to be done based on the PDB, it would have pointed to hijackings for negotiating purposes, action against federal buildings in New York, or attacks with explosives. None of which happened.’ Yeah right, you woudn’t want to do anything to stop them unless you knew they were going to fly them into buildings. Stopping hijackings for any other reason would be stupid right? More simple minded spewing…not healthy.

  5. I’m familiar with Richard Clarke’s history. You obviously don’t have a clue about my position on the failures to stop the 9/11 hijackers. But at least you tossed in a Nazi reference and called me ‘simple minded’, so you can feel good about that. If you’d like to argue that I’m saying nothing was done wrong, feel free to do so. And call some more names, too. That will help. The point is, for those too complex to get it, that that PDB contained no useful information about attacks in the United States despite the title and Richard Ben-Veniste’s desire to discuss that title. You’ll notice he had no interest in discussing the *actual contents* of the PDB, and he tried to avoid doing so except he slipped up when trying to score a soundbite against Rice.

  6. OK, lets start with you missing my earlier point: ‘You are correct about Bev-Veniste trying to aquire the release of a then classified document by centering on the title.’ As of the hearing neither the title nor the content could be entered into record due to the PDB still being classified, hence Ben-Veniste’s line of questioning where he repeatedly asked for it to be de-classified. Incidently the PDB was de-classified on 10 Apr 2004 after the commission released it’s report. Earlier you acknowledge that the PDB’s ‘actual contents’ stated a threat: ‘And, for the sake of argument, if something WAS to be done based on the PDB, it would have pointed to hijackings for negotiating purposes, action against federal buildings in New York, or attacks with explosives.’ **Threats of course that were not important enough to act on right?** Then you say ‘the PDB contained no useful information about attacks in the United States despite the title and Richard Ben-Veniste’s desire to discuss that title’ v.s. the ‘actual contents.’ **Of course you only care that he asked the title, not that he was trying to have the whole document declassified.** So…which is it? You’re flip-flopping the stance you’re defending. You can either defend: 1)The PDB outlined no real threat info, or 2)The threat outlined was not serious enough to warrant action. If you thought I was labeling you simple minded and took it as an insult, I’m sorry. Children are simple minded, but some show the willingness to learn from their mistakes instead of blaming others for their shortcomings. When I was referring to simple minded I was labeling Bush and his ilk. So then I can also guess you support the Iraq war by again thinking that I labeled you a Nazi. My precognition amazes me sometimes. Again it was a generic label for anyone who isn’t smart enough to think of any other solution besides invasion. Now don’t get me wrong, I sternly thought something need to be done about Iraq but there were many options available…not just invasion. And again, you REALLY need to do the research on Clake during Clinton’s administration and what was done in Dec 1999. I don’t think I can continue to discuss this with you intelligently if you keep ignoring irrefutable facts.

  7. Good one, Peon. Instead of getting dragged into a big long-winded OT discussion, I’ll toss this out: * This post noted the PDB and compared the game with the title to the games being played with classified information today. * B-V wanted to score points with the title itself, not discuss the general nature of the information in the PDB. * My suggestion that something specific be done about the general information in the PDB doesn’t mean that it should have been. My position is exactly the opposite: there wasn’t anything to do based on the PDB. No flip-flop. You pretend that your 1) and 2) are opposites when they are not. Using your words, the ‘threat outlined’ was not ‘serious enough’ BECAUSE it ‘contained no real threat info’. Not sure why that’s so difficult to understand. * Incidentally, the PDB was not released after the 9/11 Commision Report. It was released a couple of days after that particular hearing. The report was released that summer. * I will take your repeated urging to further research Clarke and Clinton under advisement, though I’m not sure what that has to do with the Valerie Plame affair.

  8. I just did some research and found that indeed the PDB was declassified 2 days after the hearing for the commission. However the version I aquired from CBS news says at the top ‘Declassified and Approved for Release, 10 April 2004.’ I’m just going to assume that this was the date it was released to the public not the commission. And even to this day there is a debate between us and others as to whether or not the information contained within the PDB was grounds to take the nation to ‘battlestations’ as Clinton did in Dec 1999. The intelligence community (CIA, FBI, and NSA) wrote that report because it was requested by the president after hearing from his top intelligence advisors through the summer of 2001 that Al Qaeda was going to strike a US taget in the near future. And as Ben-Veniste said ‘all of this is well documented.’ It was not so much the PDB itself that the commission and every critic of Bush use as it’s primary ammo, but all of the memos and warnings given that led to the PDB. ON Jan 25th ’01 Clarke wrote a memo to Rice saying that the USS cole incident was still unresolved and that Al Qaeda should be responded upon, and contrary to what she said he did offer a course of action. In Feb ’01 the CIA, FBI, and NSA all agreed that Al Qaeda was responsible for the USS Cole bombing that happend at the end of Clinton’s administration. Here’s an excerpt of Rice answering questions posed by Bob Kerry during the 9/11 testimony on why there was no response militarily to Al Qaeda after they took power after the Oct ’00 USS Cole bombing: KERREY:: You’ve used the phrase a number of times, and I’m hoping with my question to disabuse you of using it in the future. You said the president was tired of swatting flies. KERREY:: Can you tell me one example where the president swatted a fly when it came to Al Qaida prior to 9/11? RICE: I think what the president was speaking to was– KERREY:: No, no. What fly had he swatted? RICE: Well, the disruptions abroad was what he was really focusing on– KERREY:: No, no– RICE: — when the CIA would go after Abu Zubaydah– KERREY:: He hadn’t swatted– RICE: — or go after this guy– KERREY:: Dr. Rice, we didn’t– RICE: That was what was meant. KERREY:: We only swatted a fly once on the 20th of August 1998. We didn’t swat any flies afterwards. How the hell could he be tired? RICE: We swatted at -I think he felt that what the agency was doing was going after individual terrorists here and there, and that’s what he meant by swatting flies. It was simply a figure of speech. KERREY:: Well, I think it’s an unfortunate figure of speech because I think, especially after the attack on the Cole on the 12th of October, 2000, it would not have been swatting a fly. It would not have been -we did not need to wait to get a strategic plan. Dick Clarke had in his memo on the 20th of January overt military operations. He turned that memo around in 24 hours, Dr. Clarke. There were a lot of plans in place in the Clinton administration -military plans in the Clinton administration. In fact, since we’re in the mood to declassify stuff, there was -he included in his January 25th memo two appendices -Appendix A: Strategy for the elimination of the jihadist threat of Al Qaida, Appendix B: Political military plan for Al Qaida. So I just -why didn’t we respond to the Cole? RICE: Well, we– KERREY:: Why didn’t we swat that fly? RICE: I believe that there’s a question of whether or not you respond in a tactical sense or whether you respond in a strategic sense; whether or not you decide that you’re going to respond to every attack with minimal use of military force and go after every -on a kind of tit-for-tat basis. By the way, in that memo, Dick Clarke talks about not doing this tit-for-tat, doing this on the time of our choosing. RICE: I’m aware, Mr. KERREY:, of a speech that you gave at that time that said that perhaps the best thing that we could do to respond to the Cole and to the memories was to do something about the threat of Saddam Hussein. That’s a strategic view– (APPLAUSE) And we took a strategic view. We didn’t take a tactical view. I mean, it was really -quite frankly, I was blown away when I read the speech, because it’s a brilliant speech. It talks about really– (LAUGHTER) — an asymmetric– KERREY:: I presume you read it in the last few days? RICE:: Oh no, I read it quite a bit before that. It’s an asymmetric approach. Now, you can decide that every time Al Qaida– KERREY:: So you’re saying that you didn’t have a military response against the Cole because of my speech? RICE:: I’m saying, I’m saying– (LAUGHTER) RICE: No. KERREY:: That had I not given that speech you would have attacked them? RICE: No, I’m just saying that I think it was a brilliant way to .think about it. KERREY:: I think it’s– RICE: It was a way of thinking about it strategically, not tactically. But if I may answer the question that you’ve asked me. The issue of whether to respond -or how to respond to the Cole -I think Don Rumsfeld has also talked about this. Yes, the Cole had happened. We received, I think on January 25th, the same assessment -or roughly the same assessment -of who was responsible for the Cole that Sandy Berger talked to you about. It was preliminary. It was not clear. But that was not the reason that we felt that we did not want to, quote, respond to the Cole. We knew that the options that had been employed by the Clinton administration had been standoff options. The president had -meaning missile strikes or perhaps bombers would have been possible, long-range bombers. Although getting in place the apparatus to use long-range bombers is even a matter of whether you have basing in the region. RICE: We knew that Osama Bin Laden had been, in something that was provided to me, bragging that he was going to withstand any response and then he was going to emerge and come out stronger. KERREY:: But you’re figuring this out. You’ve got to give a very long answer. RICE: We simply believed that the best approach was to put in place a plan that was going to eliminate this threat, not respond to an attack. KERREY:: Let me say, I think you would have come in there if you said, We screwed up. We made a lot of mistakes. You obviously don’t want to use the M-word in here. And I would say fine, it’s game, set, match. I understand that. But this strategic and tactical, I mean, I just -it sounds like something from a seminar. It doesn’t– RICE: I do not believe to this day that it would have been a good thing to respond to the Cole, given the kinds of options that we were going to have. And with all due respect to Dick Clarke, if you’re speaking about the Delenda plan, my understanding is that it was, A, never adopted, and that Dick Clarke himself has said that the military portion of this was not taken up by the Clinton administration. KERREY:: Let me move into another area. RICE: So we were not presented -I just want to be very clear on this, because it’s been a source of controversy -we were not presented with a plan. KERREY:: Well, that’s not true. It is not– RICE: We were not presented. We were presented with– KERREY:: I’ve heard you say that, Dr. Clarke, that 25 January, 2001, memo was declassified, I don’t believe– RICE: That January 25 memo has a series of actionable items having to do with Afghanistan, the Northern Alliance. KERREY:: Let me move to another area. RICE: May I finish answering your question, though, because this is an important– KERREY:: I know it’s important. Everything that’s going on here is important. But I get 10 minutes. RICE: But since we have a point of disagreement, I’d like to have a chance to address it. KERREY:: Well, no, no, actually, we have many points of disagreement, Dr. Clarke, but we’ll have a chance to do in closed session. Please don’t filibuster me. It’s not fair. It is not fair. I have been polite. I have been courteous. It is not fair to me. (APPLAUSE) I understand that we have a disagreement. RICE: Commissioner, I am here to answer questions. And you’ve asked me a question, and I’d like to have an opportunity to answer it. The fact is that what we were presented on January the 25th was a set of ideas and a paper, most of which was about what the Clinton administration had done and something called the Delenda plan which had been considered in 1998 and never adopted. We decided to take a different track. RICE: We decided to put together a strategic approach to this that would get the regional powers -the problem wasn’t that you didn’t have a good counterterrorism person. The problem was you didn’t have an approach against Al Qaida because you didn’t have an approach against Afghanistan. And you didn’t have an approach against Afghanistan because you didn’t have an approach against Pakistan. And until we could get that right, we didn’t have a policy. KERREY:: Thank you for answering my question. RICE: You’re welcome. I know that’s an awful lot to read but it really sheds light on how long the controversy about what should have been done has been going on within the intelligence community. Regardless, all of this does not dismiss all of the intelligence reports throughout May, June, and July of ’01 that led to the requesting of the Aug 6th PDB. This was a well documented ongoing threat that may have had the proper attention due to it sidelined by preoccupation towards Iraq. Now the President is a very busy man and reports that are presented to him must be informative and concise. There are many issues to be dealt with on a daily basis so any briefings he gets shall sum up their points in an orderly fashion. Maybe his intelligence just assumed he was as up to speed on Al Qaeda as Clinton was (which he damn well better have been) so they didn’t want to insult his knowledge with a long drawn out documentation on every miniscule detail on up to that point, just the high points and current developments. They wanted the PDB to elicit the emotion of a serious danger while not wasting his time with a multitude of details that it would take days to read. The president simply does not thave that time. At any time however specific details would have been at his beckon call whenever he wanted them. Maybe the intelligence community assumed they were writing a document for someone as perceptive as who they were used to writing for…Clinton. So what did GW do after he supposedly read that PDB? Did he meet with any heads of intelligence? In her testimony Rice states that she does not know of any meetings nor did she meet with him. Fair enough. But the fact remains that GW stayed on vacation in Crawford for 23 more days and never had a meeting on what needed done with his cabinet until Sep 4th 2001. He was given the same option then that Clinton was given by Clarke which was to bomb certain targets in Afganistan. Unfortunatly both he and Clinton did not want to preemtivly strike Al Qaeda. Clinton’s excuse, however, was that the Cole issue had not been resolved and he didn’t want to take action until the proper blame was placed, which as I mentioned was Feb ’01 right after the inaugeration of GW. So now where does this leave us? There are a number of possibilities as to why GW did not elevate our national security to the level Clinton did in Dec ’99. 1) He’s stupid. I would believe this in a second based on the pile of poor choices he’s made in what he says, who he appoints, and who he invades. 2) He was preoccupied with Iraq. This would be quite shameful if he were indeed planning a full scale invasion from day 1 as many EDUCATED people propose. He’s even been criticized by many, including Richard Clarke, that our eventual invasion of Iraq subtracted from our Afganistan effort and that had more attention been paid there that we probably would have Bin Laden dead or alive by now. 3) He knew it was inevitable (or just plain knew) and decided that any such incident would only allow him to achieve any agenda he wanted, including an Iraq invasion. I really don’t want to think he allowed this to happen, but it’s hard to ignore his ties with the Bin Laden family, and even harder to imagine he would not have had a clue about Osama and what he was up to in any facet. He should have been at least minimally informed. What do I think? I think we’ve been and continue to be duped by the Saudis into getting their political agendas done. And they didn’t have to lift a finger. There’s just too much data to go on covering, but everything points to the Saudis. Do your own research if you so desire, but don’t ignore the well documented facts. I hope I shed any light into this at all. Oh…and what does this have to do with the Valerie Plame affair?…She is one of many people caught in the political shitstorm involving the imagined reasons why we invaded Iraq. Again I think that Iraq was a problem needing to be dealt with, just not necassarily with invasion. Too many lies have been told and too many sneaky deals have gone down. Every shred of evidence used to justify the war has been proven false and many claims exagerated. What I’m saying is that the war mongers will stop at nothing to achieve carnage, even if they’re told what they’re doing is dumb. We cannot let this country turn into a Nazi-like state spouting paranoid delusions just so we can keep the war machine churning. There are other ways of dealing with terrorism, that have been proven, that don’t involve going to war. If we escalate the war monger attitude and stick with it there will definitly be another great coalition formed in the future…against us and our allies.

  9. Oh…and I never said that the points you were defending were ‘opposites,’ I said they were different subjectivly. What I said was: ‘You’re flip-flopping the stance you’re defending. You can either defend: 1)The PDB outlined no real threat info, or 2)The threat outlined was not serious enough to warrant action.’ Maybe I shouldn’t have used that shitty republican tool…the words flip and flop. Regardless those points to defend are different. 2 different excuses for the same mistake. You are trying to defend an excuse for inaction. Next you said: ‘Using your words, the ‘threat outlined’ was not ‘serious enough’ BECAUSE it ‘contained no real threat info’. Not sure why that’s so difficult to understand.’ Why are you quoting me quoting your excuse? I didn’t say that. I was stating what your 2 excuse options were…that YOU gave ME. You’re quoting me quoting you and saying I said it. WTF? I’m the one here challenging the ‘excuses.’ I thought we had our perspective roles figured out by now.

  10. Peon: Upon cursory glance, you seem to be re-arguing the Rice/B-V discussion or the PDB or something. I don’t generally blow off comments, but since these are lengthy and OT and I already said we weren’t going to get into a lengthy discussion of something else, I’m going to blow these off. The PDB has been argued and argued and argued and argued. If you’re unhappy about how it came out, I can’t help you. Someone else is free to read and decide if I’m wrong for doing so.

  11. Spoken like a true republican. Their apathy is contagious throughout the entire party. The only information worthy of note is what the President says, and it is mantra. Sieg Heil!

  12. Spoken like a true republican. Their apathy is contagious throughout the entire party. The only information worthy of note is what the President says, and it is mantra. Sieg Heil!’ Peon, do you have any idea how bad you make the ‘non-Republican’ crowd look? I mean, SERIOUSLY dumb. No, I’m not a Republican. In fact, I was selected at my local Democratic caucus to represent them as a delegate if that gives you any idea. You’re not doing yourself or anyone else (except the Republicans/conservatives) any favors by opening your mouth and spewing that kind of crap.

  13. Again the republican in you keeps spilling out. I seem to be the one with all the facts at my disposal, not just idle opinions, and yet I’m a dumbass right? On the other hand there’s you who has yet to come up with any facts to back up your arguments, can’t figure out which excuse to stick with, and puts words in my mouth that you said. I’m done wasting my time trying to educate a primate. I guess it’s hard to hear the truth with your head up someone else’s ass (BTW that’s worse than your own).