Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

05.23 Environmentalists Are Ignoring the Elephant In the Room: U.S. Military Is the World’s Largest Polluter [Since Trump had the EPA's records on global warming and pollution destroyed—and thus reporting world-wide has nearly stopped, let's pick on the US Military]

05.23 White House proposes slashing funds to clean up toxic sites despite EPA's pleas [far worse than just being stupid]

05.22 China and India Make Big Strides on Climate Change

05.22 The entire health care industry is panicking that Trump is about to blow up Obamacare

05.22 Air pollution linked to poor sleep, study finds

05.22 Trump's Fox News deputy national security advisor fooled him with climate fake news

05.21 Canada eases steps to open supervised drug injection sites amid opioid crisis

05.21 Canada First Nations reserve bars outsiders amid opioid crisis

05.20 Global Study Shows Americans Dying from Preventable Causes at Shocking Rates [“What a country!” —Yakov Smirnoff]

05.20 China claims breakthrough in mining 'flammable ice' [might greater release of methane to our atmosphere become a larger problem?]

05.20 ETP Spills Two Million Gallons of Drilling Material in Ohio

05.20 Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

05.19 How Australia can use hydrogen to export its solar power around the world

05.19 Dirty diesel: why ships are the worst offenders

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

05.23 Hiding in plain sight: how the 'alt-right' is weaponizing irony to spread fascism

05.23 More Bernie, less Trump: is this how Democrats will win Montana's special election?

05.23 Trump's budget: major slashes to social programs – but $1.6bn for the wall [disgusting that this was proposed at all]

05.22 Billionaires Lay Siege to State Governments

05.22 A Living Wage: A Human Right for All

05.21 Nurses heckle Democratic leader, threaten legislators over health care [videos]

05.21 The small Texas city fighting to remain a ‘safe haven’ for immigrants [morally right & courageous]

Justice Matters

05.20 WILL ROBERT MUELLER EXPLORE TRUMP’S RUSSIAN BUSINESS TIES?

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

05.23 Doughnut Economics – Grab a pencil, draw a doughnut!

05.20 Americans Are Paying $38 to Collect $1 of Student Debt

05.20 The Malta Files: How the smallest EU country became a haven for global tax avoidance [why can't we play nice together?]

International

05.23 Iran's Rouhani denounces US' Middle East ignorance

05.23 Could an Islamic reformation prevent violent radicalisation in Egypt? [denied vital lives enmasse, angry youth rebel in the only way that has any effect]

05.23 Kids on the streets of Kabul get another chance at childhood

05.23 Up to 150 children under five die each day in Aung San Suu Kyi's Myanmar

05.23 At least 22 dead and 50 injured, in suicide bomb attack at Manchester Arena

05.23 Facebook flooded with 'sextortion' and revenge porn, files reveal [wake-up people, don't let kids 'play' here]

05.22 Revealed: Facebook's internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence

05.22 Big game hunter is crushed to death when an elephant he was hunting in Zimbabwe is shot and falls on top of him [a fitting death to an elephant killer]

05.22 Tensions rise as Uganda refugee policy is pushed to breaking point

05.22 Outnumbering refugees two to one: how the world ignores war's greatest scandal

05.22 Kashmir conflict shifts with top militant vowing fight is for an Islamic state

05.21 UK needs more immigrants to 'avoid Brexit catastrophe' [who benefits from bad "conservative" policy?]

05.21 THE LIGHTS ARE GOING OUT IN THE MIDDLE EAST [we suggest enticing a solar panel and battery manufacturers to locate in your countries to diversify economies and create jobs. use solar to empower yourselves...]

05.21 Rouhani’s victory is good news for Iran, but bad news for Trump and his Sunni allies

05.21 Budget analysis shows some Australian women hit with effective marginal tax rates of 100% ["conservatives" are cruel to the poor and desperate everywhere, to protect themselves from higher taxes]

05.21 Venezuela: 50th day of protests brings central Caracas to a standstill [who does interventions for countries? could the UN help more?]

05.21 Brexit and the coming food crisis: ‘If you can’t feed a country, you haven’t got a country’ [fear-based nationalism will become a costly problem]

05.21 Massimo Bottura and his global movement to feed the hungry

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Vice President Lied as White House Sought to Defuse Leak Inquiry

COMMENTARY:

Vice President Lied as White House Sought to Defuse Leak Inquiry

by Jason Leopold
The vice president’s office staged a concerted effort to undermine Wilson for questioning the veracity of the Niger claims.
Did Vice President Dick Cheney help cover-up the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson in the months after conservative columnist Robert Novak first disclosed her identity?

That’s one of the questions Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is likely trying to figure out. It’s unclear what Cheney said to investigators back in 2004 when he was questioned—not under oath—about the leak, particularly what he knew and when he knew it.

The five-count criminal indictment handed up by a grand jury last month against Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, sheds new light on a pattern of strategic deception by the Vice President and the White House to defuse an inquiry into who leaked the name of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson to the press. Months after Plame’s identity was disclosed by conservative columnist Robert Novak, Cheney continued to hide the fact that he and his aides were intimately involved in disseminating classified information about her to journalists.

What the Vice President denied knowing

The indictment against Cheney’s Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, clearly states that Cheney and Libby discussed Plame’s undercover CIA status and the fact that her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, traveled to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq tried to acquire yellowcake uranium from the African country in early June of 2003.

Yet the following month, Cheney and then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer asserted that the vice president was unaware of Wilson’s Niger trip, who the ambassador was, or a classified report Wilson wrote about his findings prior to the ambassador’s July 6, 2003 op-ed in the New York Times.

We now know, courtesy of the 22-page Libby indictment, that Cheney wasn’t being truthful. Cheney did see the report; he knew full well who Wilson was. He also knew that the CIA arranged for Wilson to travel to Niger, and he personally sought out information about Wilson’s trip to Niger, was briefed about the fact-finding mission, and even obtained classified information about Plame’s covert CIA status. He also came to know one other important nugget: that Plame may have recommended her husband for the trip.

Cheney’s public campaign and that of other White House officials to discredit Wilson and strategically lie about the Plame leak started on Sept. 14, 2003, during an interview with Tim Russert of NBC's “Meet the Press.”

During the interview, Cheney maintained that he didn’t know Wilson or anything about his trip.

“I don’t know Joe Wilson,” Cheney said. “I’ve never met Joe Wilson." But that's quite simply not true. Cheney sat in on many White House briefings with Wilson during the lead-up to the first Gulf War.

“I don’t know Joe Wilson,” Cheney said, in response to Russert who quoted Wilson as saying there was no truth to the Niger uranium claims. “I’ve never met Joe Wilson. And Joe Wilson—I don’t know who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back... I don’t know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldn’t judge him. I have no idea who hired him and it never came...”

“The CIA did,” Russert said, interjecting.

“Who at the CIA? I don’t know,” Cheney said. “He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.”

What happened once Cheney received information on Plame and Wilson in June 2003 remains unclear. But the indictment illustrates—in no uncertain terms—that the vice president’s office staged a concerted effort to undermine Wilson for questioning the veracity of the Niger claims.

Fitzgerald has eyed Cheney in seeking to ascertain who ordered the leak, as previously reported. While the Vice President stands accused of no wrongdoing, his role may come into greater focus during a trial.

In an interview with the syndicated radio program “Democracy Now,” Wilson argued that Cheney may have been lying to Russert when he said he didn’t know about the ambassador’s Niger trip.

“While we've never met, he certainly knows who I am and should know unless his memory is flawed and faulty,” Wilson said during the Sept. 16, 2003 interview. “There were at a minimum three reports that had been generated shortly after the Vice President had asked the question, ‘what do we know about this?’”

The Vice President certainly must have known Wilson during his tenure as secretary of defense during the first President Bush’s administration. In the weeks leading up to the first Gulf War, Wilson served as the acting U.S ambassador on the ground in Baghdad. In fact, Wilson was the only line of communication between Washington and Saddam Hussein. The White House held daily briefings with Wilson, and Cheney sat in on a majority of those briefings.

White House suggested investigation was waste of time

In hindsight, it now seems that the White House, including President Bush, attempted to steer reporters away from covering the Plame leak by saying the “leaker” would never be found.

On October 7, 2003, Bush and his spokesman, Scott McClellan, said that the White House ruled out three administration officials—Rove, Libby and Elliot Abrams, a senior official on the National Security Council—as sources of the leak a day before FBI questioned the three of them, based on questions McClellan said he asked the men.

The very next day, however, Rove was questioned by FBI investigators and said that he spoke to journalists about Plame for the first time after Novak’s column was published—a lie, it appears, based on Time reporter Matthew Cooper’s emails which stated that Rove told Cooper about Plame.

Bush told reporters the same day he doubted that a Justice Department investigation would ever turn up the source of the leak, suggesting that it was a waste of time for lawmakers to question the administration and for reporters to follow up on the story.

"I mean this is a town full of people who like to leak information," Bush said. "And I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. Now, this is a large administration, and there's lots of senior officials. I don't have any idea.”

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) responded to the president’s statement in the New York Times. “If the president says, 'I don't know if we're going to find this person,' what kind of a statement is that for the president of the United States to make?” Lautenberg asked. “Would he say that about a bank robbery investigation?”

Facing a deadline on turning over documents, emails and phone logs to Justice Department officials, Bush said that the White House could invoke executive privilege and withhold some “sensitive” documents related to the leak case. Democrats speculated that the White House had something to hide.

Classified leak or truthful rebuttal?

Unable to keep emails from investigators, the White House mounted a defense. They would seek to distinguish between “unauthorized leaks” and something perfectly legal: “setting the record straight.”

On Oct. 6, 2003, in response to questions about whether Rove was Novak’s source, McClellan tried to explain the difference between unauthorized disclosure of classified information and "setting the record straight" about Wilson’s public criticism of the Administration’s handling of intelligence on Iraq.

“There is a difference between setting the record straight and doing something to punish someone for speaking out,” McClellan said.

"There were some statements made [by Wilson] and those statements were not based on facts," McClellan said. "And we pointed out that it was not the vice president's office that sent Mr. Wilson to Niger.”

Wilson, it turned out, had never said that the vice president’s office had sent him to Niger.


Jason Leopold is the author of an explosive memoir, News Junkie, to be released in the spring of 2006 by Process/Feral House Books. Visit Leopold's website at www.jasonleopold.com for updates.



Copyright © 2005 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on November 12, 2005.

 

Public Service Ads: