Category Archive 'Richard Armitage'

12 Nov 2007

Richard Armitage Did Not Think Valerie Plame Was Covert


Richard Armitage appeared on CNN to discuss his leaking Valerie Plame’s role in arranging Joe Wilson’s Niger junket.

First of all, it’s good to recall that Bob Novak revealed in September of 2006:

I want to set the record straight based on firsthand knowledge.

First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he ‘‘thought’’ might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson.

Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer confronted Armitage with a clip of Valerie Plame commenting on Armitage’s disclosure, and Armitage explains why he did not regard Valerie as covert:

VALERIE PLAME WILSON: Mr. Armitage did a very foolish thing. He has been around Washington for decades. He should know better. He’s a senior government official. Whether he knew where exactly I worked in the CIA, he had no rights to go talking to a reporter about where I worked. That was strictly off-limits.

BLITZER: Those are strong words from Valerie Plame Wilson.

ARMITAGE: They’re not words on which I disagree. I think it was extraordinarily foolish of me. There was no ill-intent on my part and I had never seen ever, in 43 years of having a security clearance, a covert operative’s name in a memo. The only reason I knew a “Mrs. Wilson,” not “Mrs. Plame,” worked at the agency was because I saw it in a memo. But I don’t disagree with her words to a large measure.

BLITZER: Normally in memos they don’t name covert operatives?

ARMITAGE: I have never seen one named.

BLITZER: And so you assumed she was, what, just an analyst over at the CIA?

ARMITAGE: Not only assumed it, that’s what the message said, that she was publicly chairing a meeting.

13 Sep 2006

Novak Finally Talks

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Now that Richard Armitage has been exposed by the Michael Isikoff and David Corn, Bob Novak finally tells his version of how he learned about Valerie Plame, and contradicts Richard Armitage.

I want to set the record straight based on firsthand knowledge.

First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he ‘‘thought’’ might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson.

Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column.

And Joe Wilson and Valerie have changed their minds, and are adding Richard Armitage as a defendant in the lawsuit.

06 Sep 2006

Obituary for the Plamegame

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Rowan Scarborough sums up the life and career of the now deceased L’Affaire Plame, and arrives at the same conclusion the US Senate did previously: former Ambassador Joseph Wilson is irresponsible and a liar.

The expectation on the left that the Valerie Plame affair would blossom into another Watergate, bringing down a second Republican presidency, has fizzled.

Liberals expected that convictions of one or more persons in the Bush administration for leaking or confirming to columnist Robert Novak that Mrs. Plame, the wife of Bush critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, was an undercover CIA operative. Echoing Mr. Wilson’s claims, prominent liberals and leftists, most of them in the press, accused the White House of orchestrating a smear, and sought to drive Karl Rove either out of office or into prison, or both.

Three years on, none of that has happened, and the “scandal” is played out.

Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, urged on by the pundits and the mainstream press, delved into the city’s culture of reporters and their confidential sources. He issued subpoenas for all types of e-mails and documents to find out which Bush administration officials were talking to which reporters. He threatened reporters with jail — and imprisoned one of them — which may have set a precedent for future prosecutors to compel reporters to disclose their confidential sources.

But in the end, the exhaustive investigation produced no criminal charges against any official for leaking Mrs. Plame’s name in violation of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Moreover, it has recently emerged that the official who first revealed her name to Mr. Novak, for a July 2003 column, was not a White House official, but Richard Armitage, who was deputy secretary of state to Colin L. Powell…

David Corn, the Washington correspondent for the left-wing Nation magazine, was one of the first columnists to suggest that the Plame matter was a scandal, orchestrated to punish critics of the Iraq war.

“Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of a U.S. intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security — and break the law — in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others?” Mr. Corn asked in the Nation two days after the Novak column appeared. “It sure looks that way, if conservative journalist Bob Novak can be trusted.”

Last week, Mr. Corn, co-author of a new book that revealed Mr. Armitage as Mr. Novak’s original source, took a different view, acknowledging Mr. Armitage’s reputation as an “inveterate gossip” rather than a partisan hit man…

Why were Mr. Armitage, Mr. Rove and others talking about Mrs. Plame? Rather than a smear, the mentioning of Mrs. Plame’s name now appears to have been an attempt to set the record straight on this issue: how it came about that Mr. Wilson, a Bush critic who later joined Sen. John Kerry’s campaign and who was not a trained intelligence investigator, was chosen by the CIA to travel to Niger to investigate an important question for the administration as it planned to go to war in Iraq.

The question: Did Baghdad approach Niger about buying yellowcake, a refined uranium that can be further processed into weapons-grade material?

Mr. Wilson said he found no such evidence and went public with his findings in summer 2003. In an op-ed essay in the New York Times on July 6, 2003, he disclosed his CIA mission and said he found no evidence of a deal… a 2004 report cast doubt on some of Mr. Wilson’s claims.

In 2003-04, the Senate Intelligence Committee spent considerable time investigating why the CIA got the intelligence wrong on Iraq. As part of that mandate, staffers delved into the Niger mission.

First, it reported that, despite Mr. Wilson’s denials, he did get the Niger assignment because of his wife. When her unit, the Counterproliferation Division, got word that Mr. Cheney wanted the yellowcake report investigated, Mrs. Plame recommended him to her boss, and she put it in writing.

The committee, which wrote a bipartisan report, turned up a memo to her superior which said, “My husband has good relations with both the [prime minister] and the former minister of mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” The report said that the next day her unit arranged for Mr. Wilson’s trip to Niger.

She approached her husband with the remark that “there’s this crazy report” on a deal for Niger to sell uranium to Iraq. Niger had sold yellowcake to Saddam two decades ago, and some of it was still in Iraq when U.S. troops arrived in the Gulf war in 2003.

The Senate investigators reported that Mr. Wilson did, in fact, find evidence that an Iraqi overture to buy yellowcake may have occurred. To Republicans, this meant Mr. Wilson’s op-ed in the New York Times — the essay that triggered the whole affair — was inaccurate, just as Mr. Libby contended to Mrs. Miller that it was.

In an addendum to the bipartisan report, Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, wrote that “public comments from the former ambassador, such as comments that his report ‘debunked’ the Niger-Iraq uranium story, were incorrect and have led to a distortion in the press and in the public’s understanding of the facts surrounding the Niger-Iraq uranium story. The committee found that, for most analysts, the former ambassador’s report lent more credibility, not less, to the reported Niger-Iraq uranium deal.”…

At the end of the affair, some liberal voices concede the fizzle. In an editorial last week, The Washington Post observed that “It now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame’s CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming — falsely, as it turned out — that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush’s closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It’s unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.”

27 Aug 2006

Plamegame Leaker Identified in New Leftist Book

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Michael Issikoff himself reveals in Newsweek, that a forthcoming book he co-authored with the Nation’s Washington editor Davd Cornidentifies Robert Novak’s source for Valerie Plame’s employment as the long-suspected Richard Armitage.

In the early morning of Oct. 1, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell received an urgent phone call from his No. 2 at the State Department. Richard Armitage was clearly agitated. As recounted in a new book, “Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War,” Armitage had been at home reading the newspaper and had come across a column by journalist Robert Novak. Months earlier, Novak had caused a huge stir when he revealed that Valerie Plame, wife of Iraq-war critic Joseph Wilson, was a CIA officer. Ever since, Washington had been trying to find out who leaked the information to Novak. The columnist himself had kept quiet. But now, in a second column, Novak provided a tantalizing clue: his primary source, he wrote, was a “senior administration official” who was “not a partisan gunslinger.” Armitage was shaken. After reading the column, he knew immediately who the leaker was…

Armitage, a well-known gossip who loves to dish and receive juicy tidbits about Washington characters, apparently hadn’t thought through the possible implications of telling Novak about Plame’s identity. “I’m afraid I may be the guy that caused this whole thing,” he later told Carl Ford Jr., State’s intelligence chief. Ford says Armitage admitted to him that he had “slipped up” and told Novak more than he should have. “He was basically beside himself that he was the guy that f—ed up. My sense from Rich is that it was just chitchat,” Ford recalls in “Hubris,” to be published next week by Crown and co-written by the author of this article and David Corn, Washington editor of The Nation magazine.

As it turned out, Novak wasn’t the only person Armitage talked to about Plame. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward has also said he was told of Plame’s identity in June 2003. Woodward did not respond to requests for comment for this article, but, as late as last week, he referred reporters to his comments in November 2005 that he learned of her identity in a “casual and offhand” conversation with an administration official he declined to identify. According to three government officials, a lawyer familiar with the case and an Armitage confidant, all of whom would not be named discussing these details, Armitage told Woodward about Plame three weeks before talking to Novak. Armitage has consistently refused to discuss the case; through an assistant last week he declined to comment for this story. Novak would say only: “I don’t discuss my sources until they reveal themselves.”

The left has never really yearned for Armitage’s scalp. however, since:

Armitage was a member of the administration’s small moderate wing. Along with his boss and good friend, Powell, he had deep misgivings about President George W. Bush’s march to war. A barrel-chested Vietnam vet who had volunteered for combat, Armitage at times expressed disdain for Dick Cheney and other administration war hawks who had never served in the military. Armitage routinely returned from White House meetings shaking his head at the armchair warriors. “One day,” says Powell’s former chief of staff Larry Wilkerson, “we were walking into his office and Rich turned to me and said, ‘Larry, these guys never heard a bullet go by their ears in anger … None of them ever served. They’re a bunch of jerks’.”

Captain Ed puts all this into the proper perspective, which reflects abysmally on both Patrick Fitzgerald and Richard Armitage:

This means that the Department of Justice knew the source of the Plame leak within four months of its occurrence. It also knew that the leak had no malicious intent. Patrick Fitzgerald, who almost certainly knew of it within the first days of his investigation, never attempted to indict the man whom he knew leaked the information. Why, then, has Fitzgerald’s mandate continued after the first week of October?

Fitzgerald took the case on September 26. If this book is accurate about its dates, the DoJ and Fitzgerald would have known about Armitage’s role as the source of the leak five days later. Instead of either charging Armitage or closing down the investigation, Fitzgerald went on a witch hunt. He didn’t even talk to Scooter Libby until two weeks after Armitage’s confession. A year later, Fitzgerald had reporters Judith Miller and Matthew Cooper imprisoned for contempt of court for refusing to divulge a source about a leaker from whom Fitzgerald had already received a confession.

This shows the danger of independent investigators who answer to star chambers instead of the elected representatives that have electoral accountability. The entire Fitzgerald investigation is a massive waste of money and energy, an ego project for one man, a wild-goose chase without the goose. Up to now, we all thought that Armitage never came forward or did so much later in the process. This time line shows Fitzgerald as a dangerous Cotton Mather with a briefcase. What else should we think of a prosecutor who hauls people into court and jails them for contempt when his culprit confessed at the very beginning?

Addendum: The more I think about this, the angrier I get — and not just at Patrick Fitzgerald. Richard Armitage confessed to the DoJ in October 2003, and then sat on his ass for the next three years as the media and the Left play this into a paranoid fantasy of conspiracies and revenge. I know Armitage dislikes Rove, Libby, Cheney, and Bush, but what kind of man sits around while the world accuses people of a “crime” that he himself committed? Armitage did nothing while the nation spent years and millions of dollars chasing a series of red herrings, never speaking out to remove the mystery and end the witch hunt. Even three years later, Armitage hasn’t mustered the testicular fortitude to publicly admit that he leaked Plame’s identity and status; he has Isikoff and Corn do it for him.

12 Jul 2006

Latest Clarice Feldman Article

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At American Thinker, essential commentator on the Pouting Spooks Anti-Bush Operation, Clarice Feldman, offers her latest observations on Robert Novak’s account of his role in the Plamegame scandal, published yesterday in Human Events.

Novak writes:

For nearly the entire time of his investigation, Fitzgerald knew—independent of me—the identity of the sources I used in my column of July 14, 2003. A federal investigation was triggered when I reported that former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, was employed by the CIA and helped initiate his 2002 mission to Niger. That Fitzgerald did not indict any of these sources may indicate his conclusion that none of them violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

Causing Feldman to ask:

If Fitzgerald knew by January 12, 2004 who the leaker was and that it wasn’t Libby or Rove, why did he later call them to testify before the grand jury? Was it simply to determine whether he could trap them into making perjurious statements, something the law does not permit?

She believes, along with many others, that Novak’s unnamed source “is almost certainly Richard Armitage, Colin Powell’s Deputy Secretary of State. The same man who almost certainly was Bob Woodward’s source as well.”

Feldman makes an important connection:

If Fitzgerald has known since January 12, 2004 of the name of the leaker, why is he still protecting him, and why is he treating the leaker’s (that is, Armitage’s) source, who is almost certainly Marc Grossman, former Under Secretary of State for political affairs, the man reportedly the source for the first accusations against Libby and Rove, as an impartial witness to the events? In the discovery process it turned out that Grossman was a longtime friend of Wilson’s, dating to their college days at the University of California—Santa Barbara. Is it likely that the famous prosecutor missed this fact?

and then asks another question:

Finally (and I hope to report more fully on this soon) what role, exactly, did former Deputy Attorney General Comey, who set up this extra-statutory (and I think unconstitutional) appointment of his friend Patrick Fitzgerald, play in steering Fitzgerald toward the mistaken notion that Libby was lying, not Wilson or the CIA?

Our own Comey Connection report here.

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