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October 23, 2005 - Tuesday Rumors

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- Will the head of the WHIG conspiracy, Vice President Cheney, resign this week?
- Will Condoleezza Rice be named Vice President?

The Patrick Fitzgerald investigation of the CIA leak thing - who in the White House shopped around the fact the Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was CIA agent and ruined her career and undercover network to get a back at her husband for saying the whole idea Saddam Hussein had folks trying to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger was bogus, because the CIA sent him there to check and there wasn't any way it could be true - is winding down. The grand jury created to look into this must be adjourned by the end of the month - its term expires - and there may be indictments soon, this week or next - or a report from Fitzgerald that no one broke any laws and the whole thing is really just a big "never mind" - or a new grand jury could called to continue on for another two years. No one knows.

When no one knows there are rumors. Tuesday, October 18, the Washington Post runs a story that Vice President Cheney may be a target in the whole business of getting the word out there that you cannot trust Joe Wilson because his wife works for the CIA - that chickenshit outfit that always wants better proof of threats when everyone knows we're all going to die unless we do something - and she set up her husband's trip to Africa just to make Bush and Cheney and the whole war thing look bad. Short version? These two wanted to undermine our case for war because they're evil and hate America, as everyone who knows things knew we had to have this war. And, by the way, Wilson is a pussy-whipped wimp whose wife had to find things for him to do. That seemed to be the idea.

Well, Cheney had his own little war going with the CIA - they didn't tell him what he wanted to hear, or knew to be true, about the actual threat posed by the former Iraq. In his eyes they were out of control, or at least, not with the program.

There are hundreds of references to that, and it became even more clear this week after Judith Miller of the New York Times testified - see Miller Story Shows White House-CIA Tension (Peter Yost, Associated Press). Her conversations with Cheney chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, give sense of that.


"I recall that Mr. Libby was displeased with what he described as 'selective leaking' by the CIA," Miller wrote. "He told me that the agency was engaged in a 'hedging strategy' to protect itself in case no weapons were found in Iraq."

Amid the ultimately futile hunt for the banned weapons, Libby told Miller that the CIA's strategy was, "If we find it, fine, if not, we hedged," the reporter recounted.

Libby's "frustration and anger" spilled over into their conversations, Miller wrote, with the Cheney aide describing leaking by the CIA as part of a "perverted war" over the war in Iraq.


So Cheney's office was ticked at the CIA for being so damned cautious. It was disloyalty. And it made the administration look bad. And this was months before Wilson published his New York Times piece saying he'd gone there (Niger), and there was nothing there. Well, Niger was there, but no one was selling anything radioactive to anyone from Iraq.

So the whole administration is selling one story and the CIA is "hedging" - and then Wilson goes public. You can see the frustration. Bush, Rice and Cheney are everywhere in the media talking about not wanting "the proof to be in the form of a mushroom cloud" - what we know is good enough. And the CIA and this married couple are messing up the whole thing. They had Judy Miller at the Times behind them - she fed the Times a ton of "insider" stories about the nasty aluminum tubes for the centrifuges, and about the exiled scientist who had actually worked on the nuclear bombs Iraq was building, and everything Ahmed Chalabi said, and so on. Her fellow reporters complained she was "an advocate" and had crossed the line, but the Times was on board. (They later apologized and pulled her off Iraq reporting.) But the Wilson piece was a public escalation of their war with the CIA, in Judy's paper!

This was a problem in controlling the press. Their enemy sneaked a bomb in their newspaper, the most influential in the nation, one that they had neatly co-opted. Drat!

But did Vice President Cheney himself do something about this? The Post quotes someone - "a former Cheney aide" - saying "it is 'implausible' that Cheney himself was involved in the leaking of Plame's name because he rarely, if ever, involved himself in press strategy."

But maybe he was involved, in a sort of 1170 way - Henry II didn't really do anything to Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, but he did say, "What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord. Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?"

It was just a question. Did Libby do the deed?

But then, as Bloomberg News reports, special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald "is focusing on whether Vice President Dick Cheney played a role in leaking a covert CIA agent's name." Well, "playing a role" in a crime makes you a criminal, if someone proves it. Can sitting vice president be indicted on criminal charges? Yep, according to this, from UCLA Law professor Stephen Bainbridge. Robert Bork says so too. Only the president is immune to criminal indictments.

And someone may have been flipped - someone on Cheney's staff may have ratted him out.


See this:


A senior aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, sources close to the investigation say.

Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald's case tell RAW STORY that John Hannah, a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton, was named as a target of Fitzgerald's probe. They say he was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson's name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.

Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal.


Cool. The plot thickens.

And last December in Newsweek this same fellow got mention with this item. John Hannah all along had been feeding Cheney's office intelligence reports about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism from the Iraqi National Congress, Chalabi's exile group in America, bypassing the CIA entirely. And the fellow was on loan from John Bolton, now our UN Ambassador, who back then was all over the United Nations IAEA as they were undercutting the administration's claims about all this stuff.

If he's been flipped?


This is odd. And Tuesday there was also this from MSNBC –  


NBC News confirmed the special prosecutor has already questioned two people on or formerly on the vice president's staff about his possible involvement in the leak, Cheney's adviser, Catherine Martin, and his former spokeswoman, Jennifer Millerwise.

... MSNBC-TV's Keith Olbermann spoke to Newsweek magazine's chief political correspondent, Howard Fineman, about the newest player added to the CIA leak investigation lineup.

KEITH OLBERMANN, COUNTDOWN HOST: First, Mr. Fitzgerald asked Judith Miller about the vice president. We know about that from what she wrote. And she said he didn't know much about any of what she supposedly discussed with Mr. Libby. But then Mr. Fitzgerald also asked this staffer and the former staffer of the vice president about the vice president. Is he indeed being scrutinized here about a possible role in the leak? And if so, do we have any idea what role?

HOWARD FINEMAN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE: Well, my understanding is, they're at least nibbling around the edges here, because it's quite possible that the special prosecutor's theory of this case is that there was a conspiracy. It may be a pretty big one, because we're talking about the vice president of the United States' chief of staff, Scooter Libby. We're talking about Karl Rove, we're talking about seven or eight people who are part of something called a White House Iraq Group.

Their job, in the months leading up to the Iraq war, and in the months after it, was to sell the justification for the war, specifically the presence weapons of mass destruction, and then, frankly, to try to steamroller anybody who got in their way and opposed their arguments after the invasion and the occupation of Iraq began.

I think it's that group of people that the special prosecutor's looking at. Several of those people were very, very close, I mean, very, very close to the vice president. The question then becomes the classic one from a generation ago, what did he know, and when did he know it? And we're talking about the vice president.

... And in an odd way, I think we're going to reargue the run-up to the war in Iraq, and the aftermath of it, all the justifications that were made by Colin Powell and the United Nations that had to do with weapons of mass destruction, because I think the special prosecutor, Fitzgerald, is looking for motivation here. He's looking for why the people he's been investigating might have wanted to leak Valerie Plame's name, why they wanted to intimidate, perhaps, Joe Wilson and his wife.

... from the prosecutor's point of view, he's got the chief of staff of the vice president's office in his sights, clearly. And, you know, the betting around here is, it's quite likely that that's the number one target is Scooter Libby. Scooter Libby is very close, has a very close working relationship with the vice president. The vice president has a small office with a small group of people who work very closely together. He's got to look at that. He interviewed the vice president once, not under oath. If he does it again, obviously know that we know there's a bigger story on our hands than we imagined.


Yes, it's the WHIG conspiracy, as in White House Iraq Group.  Is that what will be the real target of this all - the group formed "to sell the justification for the war, specifically the presence weapons of mass destruction," and then out to "steamroller" anybody who got in their way?

Could be. But no one knows.

But Tuesday, October 18, US News and World Report gives us this:


Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

... The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008.

"Isn't she pro-choice?" asked a key Senate Republican aide.


Yeah, and she's black, and plays piano, and has a fancy PhD.  And she's said many times she does not ever want to run for president.  But why should she?  This is easier.

And as Digby over at Hullabaloo points out


If Condi becomes the Veep, how many hours/weeks/months/hours will it take for Bush to resign, Condi to become president, and all the Democratic hopes for a weak opponent in 2008 to be dashed?


It's a plan, and the president can't be having much fun at this. One can see a national address where he says he's looked at the poll numbers and how everything is going, and tell us all he was always in way over his head, and he just was never up to the job, so Condi will be just fine and bye now - sorry for the war and all.

Of course nothing may come of this all. Patrick Fitzgerald could report he uncovered no crime, so everyone should move on.

Bur Joe and Valerie won't


Wilson said that once the criminal questions are settled, he and his wife may file a civil lawsuit against Bush, Cheney and others seeking damages for the alleged harm done to Plame's career.

If they do so, the current state of the law makes it likely that the suit will be allowed to proceed - and Bush and Cheney will face questioning under oath - while they are in office. The reason for that is a unanimous 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against then- President Clinton could go forward immediately, a decision that was hailed by conservatives at the time.


Oops. And if you're not up on that see this - the ruling. And they were so happy to stick it to Bill Clinton.

Well, late reports are the grand jury will be working through the 24th at least, so no indictments soon, if ever. And everything above represents a mix of some very worried people and others with far too much time on their hands.

But it is fun.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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