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Plame Affair Smoking Gun Under Wraps
Truthout.org article reports Karl Rove indicted
Ronda Hauben (netizen2)     Print Article 
Published 2006-05-16 11:43 (KST)   
On Saturday, May 13, an article by Jason Leopold reported that Karl Rove, senior advisor to the U.S. President, and former Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House, is being indicted on charges of perjury and lying to investigators. This is part of the ongoing investigation into the criminal outing of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame.(1)

No official announcement of the indictment, however, has been made by the Special Prosecutor's Office which is conducting the investigation. A number of those writing on blogs and other Internet web sites expressed hope that finally there would be more indictments in this criminal investigation. The investigation has already gone on for almost three years. Others felt it was not yet the time to celebrate until there was a more official announcement of any indictments.

There is another piece of recent news in this investigation. This is the publication on the Internet of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's response to a Court request that he describe the newspaper articles that he would offer in evidence at the trial of Lewis Scooter Libby.(2) Libby was formerly the Chief of Staff for Vice President Dick Cheney.

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The legal brief submitted by Fitzgerald to the Court lists the articles that the prosecutor intends to introduce in the case against Libby. These articles include:
1) The New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof of May 6, 2003
2) The New York Times "Op Ed" by Joseph Wilson on July 6, 2003
3) The New Republic article by John B. Judis and Spencer Ackerman of June 30, 2003
4) The Chicago Sun Times column by Robert Novak of July 14, 2003
5) The Times.com article by Matthew Cooper and others of July 17, 2003
The first three articles will be introduced to help to establish Libby's motive for perjury. The articles help to demonstrate that the White House was very sensitive to accounts in the main stream corporate media about its efforts to spread false information about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In particular these three early articles helped to challenge the false claim that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium oxide in Niger in the effort to create a nuclear weapon.

The particular copy of the New York Times "Op Ed" that Fitzgerald informs the court it will offer in evidence at Libby's trial is a copy which contains underlines and comments in the handwriting of Vice President Dick Cheney. A copy of this document has also been made available on the Internet.(3)

The article not only includes a set of comments in the upper margin, but also several sections are underlined. The questions in the margin challenge Joe Wilson's authority to take the trip to Niger, rather than showing any interest in what Wilson had learned there. Several of the underlines in the article focus on the connection between Joe Wilson's trip and Cheney's office and the criticism that Wilson made that the Bush administration twisted the intelligence "related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program" in order "to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

What is the significance of the fact there continues to appear to be little progress in unraveling what happened in the run up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and to making the changes needed to protect the integrity of the intelligence that government officials use to make decisions? The problem of the Bush administration tampering with intelligence operations continues. Instead of Fitzgerald getting the support from Congress and the press as occurred during the Watergate investigations, he is being drawn into complex legal procedures by Libby and his lawyers. They continue to try to discredit Joe Wilson's trip to Niger.(4)

The comments by Cheney written on the Wilson editorial demonstrate the involvement of the Vice President in the process of outing Plame. Several articles in the mainstream corporate press have commented on the fact that this recent piece of evidence submitted to the Court brings the Vice President of the U.S. into the heart of the criminal case against Libby. The motive for outing Plame is being established as having seen the need to discredit the accurate criticism that Wilson was making of the way intelligence was being used by the Bush administration to create a false pretext for invading Iraq.

There have been earlier efforts to identify the chain of events by which Plame's classified identity came to be known by administration officials who then revealed it to reporters. In an article in "The Raw Story" this past November, Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold described the early stages of this chain. (5) The article explains:
"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....The attorneys also said that Frederick Fleitz, Bolton's chief of staff and concurrently a senior CIA Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control official, supplied Bolton with Plame's identity. Bolton, they added, passed this to his aide, Wurmser, who in turn supplied the information to Hannah."
The role that Bolton played making his office a conduit for intelligence data from the CIA to the White House was described by Seymour Hersh in an article in the New Yorker magazine in October 2003. Hersh referred to information from Greg Thielman, who had been a director of intelligence operations at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) at the State Department. Thielman explained how Bolton was dissatisfied with the intelligence information he was receiving from the INR and set up his own channel for information from the CIA.

In his brief to the Court on May 12, Fitzgerald explains that the Office of the Vice President (OVP) received multiple copies of an October 2003 article by Hersh. That it was annotated by Libby and others in the office. Fitzgerald indicates that he is not yet decided about whether he will introduce the article into evidence at Libby's trial.

Since the prosecutor's investigation has been ongoing, there have been serious reorganizations of intelligence operations at both the CIA and at the State Department. An article by Jason Leopold in February 2006 reported that officials in the Bush administration who have cooperated with the investigation had been removed from their jobs at the State Department.(6)

The reorganization underway at the State Department, Leopold reports, is pushing out career officials who were critical of the way the White House was using intelligence. The State Department officials leading this reorganization and removing critics of the tainting of intelligence operations are said to be Frederick Fleitz who formerly worked for John Bolton when he was at the State Department, and Robert Joseph, who had been involved with the National Security Council and is said to be responsible for the insertion of the false claim that Iraq was seeking uranium oxide from Niger into Bush's 2003 State of the Union address.

CIA analysts who challenged the way the Bush administration was using intelligence are also being subjected to reorganization plans. First Porter Goss was put in charge of the CIA to make significant changes. More recently, the analysts are being moved out of the CIA and put into the new oversight agency under the supervision of National Intelligence Director John Negroponte.

Speaking to the press on May 7, Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the House intelligence committee chairman, explained that Congress had not intended the new oversight agency to be an agency with its own intelligence operations.(7) It was to be a coordinating body. Instead, however, an operational agency is being created. Commenting on this, Hoekstra told Chris Wallace on Fox News:
"Number one, moving the analytical function out of the CIA into the Office of the Director of National Intelligence -- that's not what we envision in intelligence reform. The DNI was supposed to be coordinating and bringing these 16 agencies together, not becoming a doer of things. He was the chief executive officer, not an operating officer. I'm concerned about that direction."
More recently, General Michael V. Hayden has been nominated to take charge of the CIA and to carry out the reorganization plans. Commenting on the problem this represents for the CIA, Hoekstra says:
"And if General Hayden was an architect of that, he's going to be going into an agency where the people in the agency say he's not an advocate for us. He's the one that's, you know, potentially gutting what we believe are some of our core functions."
While the press and the Congress played a significant role in helping to uncover the illegal activities at the White House during the Watergate investigation, the burden appears to have been put on the shoulders of the Special Prosecutor's office in the current White House investigation. Without active participation from the press and Congress, the investigation has been drawn out and there has been a need to make the thrust to unravel the lies and the efforts to obstruct the investigation.

There have been journalists on the Internet, both professional and citizen journalists, who are working to uncover the discrepancies in the story presented by the administration. Also, it has been helpful to have documents in the case put on the Internet. Ironically, the current investigation by the Special Prosecutor's Office demonstrates the important role that press criticism played to challenge criminal or false activity by those in the White House in 2003. The White House then set out to enlist the press in support of its effort to discredit accurate criticism.

The current investigation is about the criminal activity that resulted from the White House failing to welcome accurate criticism of their activities. The role of the press continues to be critical in providing oversight over the activities of those in powerful positions like the White House. Fortunately, there are both professional and citizen reporters on the Internet, and those who participate in online discussions, or blogs, who are making the effort to contribute to this oversight role that a press needs to play.
(1) http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/051306W.shtml

(2) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12774143/site/newsweek/
"The Fitzgerald Filing"

(3) http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/files/articles_3.pdf

(4) See for example the transcript of the oral arguments in the Libby legal case from Friday, May 5, 2006

(5) http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Laywers_involved_in_leak_case_say_1102.html
"Bolton's Chief of Staff gave information on outed agent to Libby lawyers
involved in leak case say", The Raw Story, 11/02/2005

(6) http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/022406J.shtml
"Plame Whistleblowers Targeted by Administration" by Jason Leopold
Truthout, February 24, 2006

(7) http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,194587,00.html
Transcript: Rep. Pete Hoekstra on 'FNS'
Sunday, May 07, 2006
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ronda Hauben

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