August 27, 2006


The Man Who Said Too Much (Michael Isikoff, 8/27/06, Newsweek)

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. On the phone with Powell that morning, Armitage was "in deep distress," says a source directly familiar with the conversation who asked not to be identified because of legal sensitivities. "I'm sure he's talking about me."

Armitage's admission led to a flurry of anxious phone calls and meetings that day at the State Department. (Days earlier, the Justice Department had launched a criminal investigation into the Plame leak after the CIA informed officials there that she was an undercover officer.) Within hours, William Howard Taft IV, the State Department's legal adviser, notified a senior Justice official that Armitage had information relevant to the case. The next day, a team of FBI agents and Justice prosecutors investigating the leak questioned the deputy secretary. Armitage acknowledged that he had passed along to Novak information contained in a classified State Department memo: that Wilson's wife worked on weapons-of-mass-destruction issues at the CIA. (The memo made no reference to her undercover status.) Armitage had met with Novak in his State Department office on July 8, 2003—just days before Novak published his first piece identifying Plame. Powell, Armitage and Taft, the only three officials at the State Department who knew the story, never breathed a word of it publicly and Armitage's role remained secret.

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.

Hadn't thought about it? The reason her job is interesting is because it shows the Wilson trip was a CIA op against the elected government of the United States.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 27, 2006 9:39 AM

I'll stick to my initial reaction that it's Powell they're all dancing around trying to protect and I hope he is exposed for the craven hypocrite he is ... and if Armitrage is such a yenta, what was he doing working in the secrets chamber?

Posted by: erp at August 27, 2006 2:41 PM

"it shows the Wilson trip was a CIA op against the elected government of the United States" and the subsequent witch hunt of Cheney-Libby connection was the State Dept.'s op against the elected govt. that the bureaucrats did not approve. The scandal is how entrenched bureaucrats underminded the will of the people who elected a president that the bureaucrats didn't want. Now we have a govt. of the bureaucrats, by the bureaucrats, for the bureaucrats.

Posted by: ic at August 27, 2006 3:20 PM

While this tends to confirm many of the rumors that have been around for over a year that Armitage was the source, considering the timing of this and the upcoming Libby trial and its likely revelations, this could also be a case of David Corn throwing Armitage under the bus to take the spotlight off his own involvement in publicizing Plame's status as a CIA agent.

Posted by: John at August 27, 2006 5:43 PM


That's exactly right. Wilson was boasting and Corn was his second (and more detailed) mouthpiece. Corn has been very dodgy about the whole business since, mainly just spewing bile against Bush/Rove/Cheney whenever he has been asked about Plame. He knows he was either used by Wilson, or was complicit with him. Either way, he's not going to admit it.

The collapse of the whole affair du Plame is going to ratchet up the BDS crowd quite a bit. The next move is probably to claim that Plame was doing her patriotic duty, and don't you dare question her patriotic service to the CIA, which was patriotically trying to protect us all from Dick Cheney.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 27, 2006 9:38 PM

Which brings us to the question: If Armitage went to the Justice Dept and told them he was the source of the leak, the WTF was Fitzgerald investigating, anyway?

Posted by: ed in texas at August 28, 2006 12:28 PM

Based on the exchanges between Andy McCarthy and John Podhoretz over at The Corner (NRO), it seems that the investigation should have been shut down even before Fitzgerald was appointed. Libby's indictment almost seems an afterthought, and Fitzgerald's lengthy press conference last fall is going to haunt him.

Posted by: ratbert at August 28, 2006 1:34 PM
« THE REST IS JUST A FORMALITY: | Main | TWO-FER (via Tom Morin): »