July 16, 2005


State Dept. Memo Gets Scrutiny in Leak Inquiry on C.I.A. Officer (RICHARD STEVENSON, 7/16/05, NY Times)

Prosecutors in the C.I.A. leak case have shown intense interest in a 2003 State Department memorandum that explained how a former diplomat came to be dispatched on an intelligence-gathering mission and the role of his wife, a C.I.A. officer, in the trip, people who have been officially briefed on the case said.

Investigators in the case have been trying to learn whether officials at the White House and elsewhere in the administration learned of the C.I.A. officer's identity from the memorandum. They are seeking to determine if any officials then passed the name along to journalists and if officials were truthful in testifying about whether they had read the memo, the people who have been briefed said, asking not to be named because the special prosecutor heading the investigation had requested that no one discuss the case.

The memorandum was sent to Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, just before or as he traveled with President Bush and other senior officials to Africa starting on July 7, 2003, when the White House was scrambling to defend itself from a blast of criticism a few days earlier from the former diplomat, Joseph C. Wilson IV, current and former government officials said.

Mr. Powell was seen walking around Air Force One during the trip with the memorandum in hand, said a person involved in the case who also requested anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about talking about the investigation. [....]

When Mr. Wilson's Op-Ed article appeared on July 6, 2003, a Sunday, Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, called Carl W. Ford Jr., the assistant secretary for intelligence and research, at home, a former State Department official said. Mr. Armitage asked Mr. Ford to send a copy of the memorandum to Mr. Powell, who was preparing to leave for Africa with Mr. Bush, the former official said. Mr. Ford sent it to the White House for transmission to Mr. Powell.

It is not clear who asked for the memorandum, but in the weeks before it was written, there were several accounts in newspapers about an unnamed former diplomat's trip to Africa seeking intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program. On May 6, 2003, Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for The Times, wrote of a "former U.S. ambassador to Africa" who had reported to the C.I.A. and the State Department that reports of Iraq seeking to acquire uranium in Niger were "unequivocally wrong."

The memorandum was prepared at the State Department, relying on notes by an analyst who was involved in meetings in early 2002 to discuss whether to send someone to Africa to investigate allegations that Iraq was pursuing uranium purchases. The C.I.A. was asked by Mr. Cheney's office and the State and Defense Departments to look into the reports.

According to a July 9, 2004, Senate Intelligence Committee report, the notes described a Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at C.I.A. headquarters on whether Mr. Wilson should go to Niger.

The notes, which did not identify Ms. Wilson or her husband by name, said the meeting was "apparently convened by" the wife of a former ambassador "who had the idea to dispatch" him to Niger because of his contacts in the region. Mr. Wilson had been ambassador to Gabon.

The Intelligence Committee report said the former ambassador's wife had a different account of her role, saying she introduced him and left after about three minutes.

If, having aimed at Rove -- who you'll note kept Matt Cooper out of jail -- they hit Colin Powell -- perhaps the source Judith Miller is in prison protecting -- the Left and MSM are going to experience a rash of exploding heads. Meanwhile, when the press feeding frenzy turns on one of the most widely respected public servants in America, General Powell, it will give the President a chance to come to his defense and the public further reason to despise the press.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 16, 2005 10:23 AM

On May 6, 2003, Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for The Times, wrote of a "former U.S. ambassador to Africa" who had reported to the C.I.A. and the State Department that reports of Iraq seeking to acquire uranium in Niger were "unequivocally wrong."

As it turns out, this is not only not what Wilson reported, it is the opposite. One of the dogs not barking in this case is the New York Times' reporters who are not up-in-arms because Wilson lied to them. Is that because he was lying in a good cause, or because they knew the truth from the beginning?

Posted by: David Cohen at July 16, 2005 10:54 AM

Oj. If you're right, the left and msm will indeed experience a rash of exploding heads, but what about the general? Will his new associates in Silicon valley think more or less of him if he's outed as the dupe of the gang that couldn't shoot straight?

Posted by: erp at July 16, 2005 11:18 AM

Colin Powell owes his entire career to Affirmative Action and his role as a professional token with good table manners who looks nice in a dress uniform. The notion that the MSM, where Affirmative Action is universal and where looking good is a necessity, would never turn on one of their own like that. Powell also has been smart enough to ingratiate himself with the 'right people' in DC, protecting his incredibly undeserved iconic status.

If all roads were to lead to Powell, and I think he is shrewd enough to avoid this, the 'scandal' would disappear with a whimper and not a bang. Wilson and spouse will be off running a Baskin-Robbins in Dubuque before the Congress comes back after summer recess.

Posted by: bart at July 16, 2005 11:38 AM

All high ranking military men are fundamentally political creatures.

Posted by: oj at July 16, 2005 12:00 PM

I think you all are misjudging the left and the MSM on this. They would attack their own grandmothers if they thought it would hurt Bush and the Republicans. I doubt they would cut Powell any slack.

Posted by: PapayaSF at July 16, 2005 12:06 PM


Yes, that's the beauty of it.

Posted by: oj at July 16, 2005 12:10 PM

Sadly, OJ, even my acquaintances of general rank would agree with you.

Posted by: bart at July 16, 2005 12:20 PM


Posted by: ghostcat at July 16, 2005 12:21 PM

Wow, OJ
"All high ranking military men are fundamentally political creatures".

My brother told me in 1970 exactly that's the reason why he couldn't go higher in rank despite he's a decorated, brave and principle following officer. He also had the support of his classmates who are also generals and his superior but his recommendation are always turned down by the clowns running SVNA then. I didn't not understand it then but I always remember his answer because it was against my "common sense".

Posted by: Lan Nguyen at July 16, 2005 2:15 PM

The military, though admirable in many ways, is, at the end of the day, a bureaucracy. All bureaucracies require political skills for ultimate advancement.

Posted by: oj at July 16, 2005 3:26 PM

All true, oj, but you miss another basic truth: the American military is accountable to elected and appointed political figures. The higher your rank, the closer you are to that political leadership and the greater the need to successfully relate to them on their terms. Anyone on the Joint Chiefs, in particular, had damn well better be politically astute. This is not, on balance, a bad thing.

All of which is also true of senior civilian officials. As a bureaucrat emeritus, few things annoy me more than government officials bitching that politicians are interfering with their work. It's the price of poker, a _ _ holes.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 16, 2005 4:44 PM

Whether good or bad is immaterial. It's reality.

Posted by: oj at July 16, 2005 4:48 PM

On balance, political accountability of the military is a very good thing. (And when did you convert to a reality-ism? Cervantes frowns.)

Posted by: ghostcat at July 16, 2005 6:58 PM

If Miller's source is revealed to be Powell, how the media goes after this will be fun, as well as watching how the folks in the Congressional Black Caucus handle any attempt by the media or folks like Chuck Schumer to suddenly make Powell the focal point of the investigation.

Posted by: John at July 16, 2005 7:53 PM


reality isn't Realism.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2005 12:18 PM