Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Cheney and the FBI-The Report and The Numbers.
Hey Vice-Precedence readers. Well, as I reported here on the blog, VP Cheney has defended his former Chief-of-Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby vigorously about his role in the outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame after her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote critiques of the Administrations reasoning and evidence for the war in Iraq. When Libby was convicted of felony perjury and obstruction of justice, and sentenced to jail, Cheney was relentless in pressing then President Bush to fully pardon his good friend. However, President Bush determined that Libby was guilty, and only commuted his sentence so he wouldn't have to do jail time. Cheney has always maintained Libby's innocence and was reportedly furious that President Bush wouldn't pardon Libby. You can read all about this here on the blog, and I encourage you to do so. Cheney has always maintained that he didn't tell Libby to out Plame or even know about it. However, recent revelations have thrown serious doubt on what the Vice-President knew and did.
Last week the FBI released the transcript of Cheney's May 8th 2004 interview with them, which was released only after a long-fought legal battle waged by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Patrick Fitzgerald,the special prosecutor investigating the Valerie Plame outing said at the time that "there is a cloud over the vice president." This interview has exposed that cloud.
On questions both big and small regarding his role and what he knew about the Valerie Plame outing, Cheney responded 72 times that he wasn't certain about events or issues. Cheney told the FBI he "did not recall" discussing Plame with Libby prior to her name being published in a column by reporter Robert Novak in July 2003, and said he had no knowledge of Libby's meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller before Plame was identified in that paper.
According to the FBI summary, Cheney said there was no discussion of using Plame's employment with the CIA to counter her husband's criticism that the Bush administration had manipulated prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat. There was no discussion, Cheney insisted, of "pushing back" on Joseph Wilson's credibility by raising the issue of nepotism, the fact that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, the same agency that dispatched him to the African nation of Niger to run down the report of an agreement to supply uranium "yellowcake" to Iraq. Cheney also called Wilsons report "amateur hour at the CIA".
It was one example of Cheney being straight-forward and Libby being unsure.
"In a prior FBI interview, you indicated it was possible that you may have talked to the Vice President on Air Force Two ... about whether you should share the information with the press about Wilson's wife?" Fitzgerald asked Libby in his grand jury testimony.
"It's possible that would have been one of the times I could have talked to him about what I had learned," Libby answered.
"As you sit here today, do you recall whether you had such a conversation with the vice president on Air Force Two?" the prosecutor asked.
"No, sir. My, my best recollection of that conversation was what I had on my note card which we have produced which doesn't reflect anything about that," Libby replied.
Meanwhile, Cheney was with his denials of remembering these discussions-evasive. Cheney said he could not recall whether he discussed Plame with infamous White House political genius Karl Rove, Libby and others, he was certain he did not discuss her with former Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage (the original source of the leak).
Among the most basic questions for Cheney in the Plame probe: How did Libby find out that the wife of Bush administration war critic Joseph Wilson worked at the CIA?
Libby's own handwritten notes suggest Libby found out from Cheney. When Libby discovered Cheney's reference to Plame and the CIA in his notes – notes that Libby knew he would soon have to turn over to the FBI – the chief of staff went to the vice president, probably in late September or early October 2003.
According to Nick Baumann of Mother Jones Magazine-a very liberal magazine-there were 22 things the Vice-President "forgot" about the Valerie Plame outing in the report-and this is backed up by reading the full report.
1. Whether the Wilson trip was discussed during any of the visits he made to the CIA with his Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby.
2. Any reaction he had to Nicholas Kristof's New York Times' article about the Wilson visit at the time the article was published.
3. Whether he discussed the Wilson situation with George Tenet at their meeting on June 10, 2003.
4. Who he spoke to about Joe Wilson's July 6, 2003 editorial (he did remember speaking to someone, but not who it was).
5. What happened to the Joe Wilson op-ed after he wrote on it suggesting that Valerie Plame Wilson had sent Joe Wilson on a "junket," and put it in his outbox.
6. Any specific advice he gave his press people in the May-June 2003 timeframe regarding the Wilson trip to Niger.
7. Whether he discussed the Wilson situation with Eric Edelman, one of his national security advisers.
8. Whether Cathie Martin, his press secretary, entered his office while both he and Scooter Libby were present and advised both of them that Joe Wilson's wife was employed by the CIA.
9. Discussing Joe Wilson or Wilson's wife with his former press secretary Mary Matalin, although he said it was possible.
10. Ever discussing Valerie Plame Wilson with Libby prior to the publication of Novak's column.
11. Whether Scooter Libby knew about Valerie Plame Wilson on July 12, the day before the publication of the Novak column.
12. If Libby ever told Cheney he had independent knowledge of Valerie Plame Wilson's covert identity
13. Dictating notes to Libby on July 12, 2003 that Cheney said looked and sounded like something he might have dictated to Libby.
14. Discussing the Novak column or any of its contents with anyone at the time it was published.
15. Whether he discussed the Wilson trip with Libby as a sort of "boondoggle" or "junket," although he believed it possible that he had such a conversation.
16. If Libby told him that Libby was not Novak's source.
17. Libby telling him how he first learned that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative.
18. Whether he told Libby that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative.
19. Waving off Libby when Libby offered to tell him everything he knew about the Wilson matter.
20. Anyone on his staff, including Libby, ever meeting with Judith Miller during the week of July 7, 2003.
21. Having a conversation with Libby during which Libby said he wanted to share the judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate with Judith Miller.
22. Whether Libby told him that certain material in the NIE had to be declassified before it could be shared.
"For years the American people have wondered what role Vice President Cheney played in outing former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics the organization that got the interview released under the Freedom of Information Act. Now, she said, "we're one step closer" to finding out.
Lots of gaps, lots of forgotten things, lots of questions. So far, no response from the former VP. It would seem from this report that there is a lot the public was unaware of. I myself am wondering what all this will lead to? What will happen next? Will anything happen at all? Has the American public already moved on? Stay tuned here for more on this breaking story. Don't forget to be sure to go to our Facebook page and become a fan and Rate our videos on YouTube.