part 2 of 2
Special to From the Wilderness
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August 9, 2005 1500 PST (FTW): In the first part of this article I outlined the “working background” to the investigation of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald. Ostensibly hired to investigate the exposure of CIA undercover officer Valerie Plame, Fitzgerald has uncovered the apparatus used to manufacture the false pretenses for the American invasion of Iraq by the PNAC/neocon cabal in control of the White House. This constitutes an investigator’s relevant and working background. I will now outline who I believe are the prime figures in his investigation, the suspects he has cases against, some of the evidence, and some of the charges he may be able to draw up.
Let’s begin with Robert Novak, the man who started it all with a column he wrote in July of 2003 exposing Plame. Many have asked: Why did Fitzgerald charge reporters Matt Cooper and Judith Miller, but not charge Novak? I believe Novak has been talking. Which does not mean he will walk. The rightwing reporter has three problems. First he has told different stories about his conversations with “two senior administration officials” and two CIA sources, one official one unofficial. Second, he must reveal his second administration source other than Rove. Third, and probably the most serious: Was Novak part of a planned leaking that incorporated a cover story for both the reporter(s) involved and the administration officials? In other words, did someone get in contact with Novak first, tell him to call Rove, tell him what to ask, and alert him what Rove would say in reply, thereby resulting in a story which would reveal precisely what the perpetrators wanted?
There is some evidence for this scenario. First, Rove and Novak have been friends for years, at least since 1992 when Rove was fired during the campaign of Bush Sr. At that time he leaked a story smearing Robert Mossbacher, a financial backer of Bush, to his pal Novak. They then both tried to lie their way out of it. Also, the reported reply by Rove to Novak is interesting. Novak says he got the information about Plame from another source first. He then repeated it to Rove who said, “Oh, you heard that too.” This response suggests that Novak was attempting to provide Rove with a built-in legal defense. For if this actually occurred then Rove did not provide the information exposing Plame to Novak; he merely confirmed it. Thus, at trial Rove would have some form of a technical defense. The problem here for Novak is that if this is what he did, and Fitzgerald can pierce it, this would open him up to charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
This brings us to another journalist, the one who is already in jail. The case of Judith Miller is more fascinating than Novak’s. And, as I will try to explain here, it is probably even more important to Fitzgerald. To fully understand that potential importance, we must digress a bit to fill in some history about the celebrated and controversial New York Times reporter. And we must go back even farther than the Bush family wars against Iraq.
In the 1980’s, the Reagan administration had their own problems with radical Islam and the Middle East. So National Security Adviser John Poindexter decided to launch a disinformation campaign against a representative of that religion, namely Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. Nine years into her tenure at the Times, in 1986, Miller participated in Poindexter’s massive campaign of discreditation. According to Bob Woodward — who should know — Miller agreed to plant Poindexter’s propaganda in her own columns. She wrote that Gaddafi was in danger of being overthrown from within, that he was mentally imbalanced, was a drug addict, and had even come on to her sexually but quickly cooled when she told him she was Jewish. Then, at the time of Gulf War I, she co-authored two books about Hussein. One was on germ warfare, which has always held an odd attraction for her. The other was a biography of Hussein which was co-authored with Laurie Mylroie — which tells us a lot.
In 2000 Mylroie published a clear black propaganda tome called Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War Against America. The book was published by the American Enterprise Institute. In the acknowledgements, Mylroie thanks John Bolton, Lewis Libby, Paul Wolfowitz and his ex-wife. Richard Perle wrote a blurb for it saying the book was “splendid and wholly convincing.” This book supplied the figleaf for the neocon idea that Hussein was the world mastermind of terror. Mylroie blamed Iraq for every anti-American terrorist act of the last decade: even the Oklahoma City bombing. As Peter Bergen wrote in Washington Monthly (December 2003), “she is, in short, a crackpot.” Then, after 9/11, when Perle and others mustered a huge PR campaign to convince the public that Hussein had something to do with the hijackings, Miller and Mylroie were both associated with Eleana Benador, the huge public relations firm that partly handled that mass brainwashing effort. As part of this campaign, Dick Cheney made a speech on August 26, 2002 denouncing Hussein’s efforts to gain chemical and biological weapons. A few days later, Miller co-wrote an article for the Times which first set out the whole “aluminum tubes as centrifuges” myth which was used as a prop for the ersatz nuclear arsenal Hussein was building. The same day Miller’s article appeared, Cheney was on “Meet the Press” and mentioned her story, giving credit to the Times for a scoop.
But it was after the war, in the search for the non-existent WMD, that Miller’s true identity came through: in the Washington Post (June 25, 2003), Howard Kurtz wrote that Miller was embedded with the Pentagon’s MET Alpha group which was the team sent to hunt down the WMD. Donald Rumsfeld himself signed off on this assignment for Miller. One officer said she almost ended up “hijacking the mission.” How? By threatening to go to Rumsfeld or the Times if she did not get her way in the search. She was even allowed to sit in on the interrogation of Hussein’s son-in-law. At the end of the mission, she was at the ceremony to promote the warrant officer of MET Alpha, one Richard Gonzalez. She even pinned the new bars on his uniform.
So, to an even greater extent than Novak, Miller is a reporter who is not a reporter. She is so far inside the administration that she can fairly be called a participant. Which is why she is in jail. The key to what Fitzgerald is up to is contained in one of his court filings on the Miller case. There he has alluded to the fact that if Miller does not talk by the time the grand jury term is over, he is contemplating changing her civil contempt charges to criminal contempt. That is a much more serious offense which necessitates a jury trial and could put her behind bars for years, maybe even decades. Why? Unlike Novak, or Cooper, Miller never wrote a story about Plame; indeed, no colleague at the Times over the past two years has suggested Miller was even actively working on a story about Plame (Editor and Publisher, 7/12/05). Yet Fitzgerald has her in prison. So there must be activities outside her actual writing efforts that make her so suspicious.
Every journalist that Fitzgerald has called has eventually talked. This includes Walter Pincus, Tim Russert, and eventually Matt Cooper. This was done by the source waiving the confidentiality privilege in either a general or a specific way. But not Miller. In fact, when she was called to testify, not only did she refuse to talk, she did not even show up. Why? It is hard to believe she is protecting her source since, for example, Fitzgerald did not make Pincus name his source. He already knew the source since he has all the datebooks and callbooks from the White House. Pincus testified as to the date, time, and information. Fitzgerald then matched it up. Miller won’t do this. She chose jail. In my view, this strange and singular choice has little to do with her First Amendment freedom. She does not want Fitzgerald to force her to invoke the Fifth Amendment.
There are eight redacted pages in Fitzgerald’s filings that reportedly concern Miller, and perhaps Rove (Ibid). Never seen by the public, they have convinced four courts to uphold the contempt charge against Miller. According to Newsday, Miller had a meeting in Washington with an unnamed government official on July 8 th, two days after the publication of Wilson’s NYT article which partly contradicted her own writings. The only paradigm that explains Miller’s obstinacy is that, on that date, she was not really reporting on Wilson and/or Plame. She was acting as either a source or a conduit for the Plame exposure. Reporter Steve Clemons has revealed (The Washington Note, 7/22/05) that John Bolton was a regular source for Miller’s New York Times WMD and national security stories. If Bolton, or Libby, was the unnamed official who passed on the Plame/Wilson info then this would explain Rove’s convenient memory lapse about the reporter who first alerted him as to Plame’s status as Wilson’s CIA wife. Rove’s original source may have been Miller. Needless to say, if this (or a similar scenario) is correct, Miller is part of a conspiracy, and she has obstructed justice by concealing a carefully pre-planned national security leak. Perhaps Miller will not talk because she understands that the rules of evidence change in a conspiracy case. Her testimony and evidence may then be imputed to other co-conspirators. This is why I think Fitzgerald is threatening her with a criminal trial and a long jail term.
Karl Rove is likely part of that conspiracy. Fitzgerald seems to think so. Rove has appeared before the grand jury three times, has been informally interviewed by prosecutors twice, and has been interviewed by the FBI twice. But let us consider some of his public statements first to show why he is, for now, at the center of the probe. For a reputedly smart operator, Rove has said some dumb things. On September 29, 2003 he was asked by ABC News, “Did you have any knowledge or did you leak the name of the CIA agent to the press?” He replied he didn’t. Almost a year later, on August 31, 2004, on CNN when asked a similar question he said, “Well, I’ll repeat what I said to ABC News… I didn’t know her name. I didn’t leak her name.” In October of 2003, White House press secretary Scott McClellan was asked if Rove and two other administration figures had ever discussed Valerie Plame with any reporters. He said he had spoken with all three, and “those individuals assured me they were not involved in this.” The other two were Lewis Libby and Elliot Abrams.
We now know that Rove lied in all three instances. In its issue of October 6, 2003 Newsweek reported that Rove had called up Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball” and told him that Wilson’s wife was “fair game.” Andrea Mitchell of NBC told Joe Wilson something similar. Clearly Rove and Libby were in overdrive against Wilson and were more than willing to use his wife’s Agency status to discredit his trip to Niger. But as Robert Parry has pointed out in “The Consortium” (7/19/05), Rove told Cooper a couple of things that may be even more interesting to Fitzgerald. He stated that “material was going to be declassified in the coming days that would cast doubt on Wilson’s mission and his findings.” This apparently refers to the classified information he told Novak. He then closed with, “I’ve already said too much.” To a prosecutor, that statement indicates “consciousness of guilt.” Rove seemed to know he had gone too far.
In addition to the charges I mentioned above, Rove has clearly broken his White House Nondisclosure Agreement, and violated the 1917 Espionage Act. According to Murray Waas in The American Prospect (3/8/04), he lied to FBI agents. He told them he only circulated information about Plame after he read it in Novak’s column. This is another chargeable offense. According to reporter Richard Keil (Bloomberg News Service, 7/21/05), in one of his first interviews with Fitzgerald, Rove told the counsel that he learned about Plame’s CIA status through Novak, which is not his current story and may make him liable for perjury. Finally, he has probably violated the Intelligence Identities Act of 1982.
So: why hasn’t Rove been asked to resign? Certainly, this would relieve some of the pressure on the White House. Something he did right after hanging up on Cooper may explain it. He e-mailed Stephen Hadley, then Deputy National Security Adviser to Condolezza Rice, and reported on his conversation with Cooper by ambiguously saying he did not take the bait when Cooper suggested that Wilson’s column had hurt the administration (which it clearly had). But why would Rove be reporting to the Deputy National Security Adviser about his conversation with a reporter? Because Hadley was part of the Iraq Study Group: the black propaganda shop I mentioned in my previous article. Although meant to create news stories in support of the war, it clearly had a counter-intelligence capability and function.
How long did it take Fitzgerald to figure out how Rove fit into the ISG, and that Rove was his path to the higher-ups? He convened his grand jury on January 21, 2003. On January 23 rd, Mary Matalin was called. Matalin was a member of the ISG (the others were Karen Hughes, Jim Wilkinson, Nicholas Callo, Rice, Hadley, and Libby.) She was also described as a former counselor to Cheney. And this is where things get interesting. In his grand jury testimony, Rove has reportedly said that he saw no classified document on Plame (Washington Post 7/17/05). This may be true, because although others in the group probably had Top Secret clearance (e.g., Hadley, Rice, and Libby), political operatives like Matalin, Hughes, and Rove likely did not. This leads to what Fitzgerald seems to think is the origin of the classified information about Plame.
When Wilson was first recruited for his trip to Niger he met with several people from the CIA and the State Department. After Wilson agreed to the mission, the State Department representatives made notes on what had happened. These notes were turned over to their Department of Intelligence and Research (INR). In the following year, when Wilson began to appear on television and be anonymously sourced in newspaper and magazine articles, these notes were transferred into a three page memorandum, which featured one paragraph on his wife. That paragraph was clearly marked “Secret” — since she was a covert officer — and contained the (false) information that Plame had convened the Niger meeting and that it was her idea to dispatch Wilson. It is almost exactly that false information that was relayed to Cooper and Novak via Rove. Originally sent to Undersecretary Marc Grossman on June 10 th, the memo was redated and readdressed to Colin Powell on July 7 th after he heard about Wilson’s column of the previous day.
But recall, Novak used Valerie Wilson’s maiden name. Reportedly, that is not in the INR memo. So where did he get it? He might have dug it up somehow himself, which is what he seems to be saying now (New York Times 8/2/05). But at the time he was saying something else: “I didn’t dig it out, it was given to me. They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it.” (Newsday, 7/21/03). So likely he got it from his other “senior administration official.” According to Wilson’s book, The Politics of Truth, in March of 2003, after Wilson appeared on CNN criticizing the just-launched invasion, Cheney’s Chief of Staff Libby convened a meeting to start a dossier or “work-up” on Wilson (p. 452). Wilson states that John Hannah, who worked for Cheney, and David Wurmser, who worked for Bolton, were in on this assignment.
Fitzgerald seems to have been onto this quite early. In a report issued last year (2/5/04), Richard Sale of UPI wrote that officials have “developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct by two employees of Vice President Dick Cheney’s office related to the unlawful exposure of a CIA officer’s identity last year. The investigation…could lead to indictments….” The report names Hannah and Libby as the two Cheney employees and says that officials are pressuring Hannah with the threat of a long sentence if he does not turn over his superiors. Those superiors would be Libby and the Vice President himself.
How much pressure can be put on Mr. Libby, who was Matt Cooper’s second source after Rove? Both Libby and Rove have said that when they were told about Valerie Wilson being in the CIA, they replied, “Oh, you heard that also?” They have both said they heard it from a journalist first. Rove cannot recall which one. Libby has said it was from Tim Russert, but Russert has denied this. And if Libby started the dossier “work-up” in March of 2003 it would be hard to believe that four months later he needed a journalist to tell him who Wilson’s wife was.
It was Cheney who started the drumbeat about Hussein’s quest for nuclear weapons back in the summer of 2002. According to the Downing Street Minutes of July 23, 2002 , that is when the compact between England and the US was made. The war would be justified around WMD and an ultimatum to Saddam would allow the UN inspectors back in. Which in turn could allow “legal justification for the use of force.” Reportedly, Cheney told some congressional leaders at the time, that it was not a matter of if the US would attack Iraq; it was a matter of when it would occur. The hot button word “uranium” was always integral to this effort. In propaganda terms it was more potent than “germ warfare” or “chemical weapons.” From the word uranium, you could then make the dramatic leap to “mushroom cloud,” which the Cheney/Rumsfeld ISG decided to do in order to give a Cold War-style potency to an unfounded allegation. But to do this, for both England and the US, it was necessary to have a claim to stake it on.
According to The New Yorker (10/27/03), the first reports of the mythical Niger “yellowcake” appeared in Cheney’s office in late 2001. They would be knocked down by Niger ambassador Barbara Owens-Kirkpatrick, then by general Carlton Fulford on a military mission in Niger, and then by Wilson’s 2002 mission. Incredibly, in spite of all this, the administration pleaded ignorance to all three reports. The claim was still used throughout the rest of 2002. Even though, by then, it had been questioned further by the CIA, the State Department, and — as we shall see — an Italian reporter. After six discreditations, the administration still pleaded ignorance. But they knew they had to change the dressing a bit. So it was used by Bush in his 2003 State of the Union Address via the infamous British intelligence dossier, which simply supplied a different binding for a dubious story. And when Wilson put the final kibosh on it with his New York Times column, they went after him with a vengeance. Clearly, Cheney and Bush saw the Niger story as central to scaring the public into accepting this war, or else they would not have revived it so many times. By all accounts, the documents were so poorly forged that they could not possibly have fooled a professional analyst. This is why I do not agree with those who postulate that the CIA forged them.
Most politically astute observers know that Karl Rove is sometimes referred to as “Bush’s Brain”. But fewer know that, as far as foreign policy goes, Rove’s brain is Michael Ledeen (Asia Times 6/26/03). This arresting fact was belatedly revealed by the Washington Post when Bush promoted Rove to some foreign policy coordination functions in late 2004. I say belatedly because the two appear to have met after Bush’s disputed election/appointment in 2000. This is arresting because Ledeen is considered radical even by some neocons. He first came to national attention by initiating, along with his arms dealer friend Manucher Ghorbanifar, the reported basis of the Iran/Contra scandal — the idea of trading arms for hostages. He urged the US to invade Iraq by saying that Americans “were a warlike people and we love war. What we hate is not casualties but losing.” ( Boston Globe 10/10/04) Suspected of being a double agent for Israel, Ghorbanifar is a hardline Zionist and anti-Arabist who proposes a U.S. invasion of Syria, Saudi Arabia and his native Iran. In fact, he is already campaigning for a war against the last. For Ledeen, Iraq is just one step along the way to American hegemony over the Middle East. One of his closest friends is Richard Perle. Three of his contacts within the administration are Libby, Doug Feith, and Abrams. Fittingly, he loves Machiavelli and he has a strong interest in Italian history and culture. In the seventies, he was Rome correspondent for The New Republic. At that time he apparently developed some rightwing connections to Italian intelligence (SISMI), and para-intelligence, the notorious Propaganda Due Masonic Lodge.
Rocco Martino was a former employee of both of these organizations in 2000. Recently fired by SISMI, he went to the French and told them he would freelance for them by monitoring the running of arms, both conventional and unconventional, out of Africa. The French gave him a handler in Brussels and asked him to focus on their former colony of Niger which had two uranium mines under the control of the giant French company Cogema. Shortly thereafter, Martino developed a contact only referred to as a lady at the Niger embassy in Rome. The lady gave him some papers indicating that Iraq’s ambassador to the Vatican had been planning to expand trade with Niger. According to at least one report, this information got to Vice President Cheney. The French then asked Martino for more information.
In early 2001, there was a break-in at the Niger embassy. Documents and files were stolen. And curiously letterheads, stamps, and seals. In October of 2001, Martino, through the mysterious lady, now received a folder of documents, including the set which said that Iraq was now seeking shipments of uranium from Niger. Martino forwarded these to his French contacts and also to Panorama magazine, owned by Bush ally and Italian president Silvio Berlusconi. Martino later commented, “SISMI wanted me to pass on the documents but they didn’t want anyone to know they had been involved” (Financial Times, 8/2/04). Panorama gave one copy to a reporter of theirs, and said they would send another copy to the U.S. through the American embassy.
But according to The New Yorker (10/20/03), the documents were never examined at the embassy. They were passed directly to Washington. Once in Washington, they were sent by the CIA to the Pentagon, where they were supposedly accepted as genuine. This is hard to believe. One CIA officer said they looked like “Somebody got old letterheads and signatures and cut and pasted” (New Yorker 3/31/03). Further, some of the letters were signed by officials of Niger who had been out of office for a decade. And some of the handwriting of government officials did not match up (Ibid). Also, the amount of uranium involved, 500 tons, could not have been secretly spirited out of the French-controlled mines. And as previously noted, General Carlton Fulford found the report to be spurious after going to Niger (Washington Post 7/15/03). So, if the Pentagon found it credible, it must have been through Douglas Feith’s OSP.
Michael Ledeen is a friend of both Feith and his assistant Harold Rhode. According one report (Washington Monthly 9/04), Feith hired Ledeen to work as a consultant for OSP in 2001. One of the reasons his friend Ghorbanifar lost the confidence of the CIA was his tendency to create false intelligence, including forged documents. One of the most curious aspects of the phony documents is that they discuss some kind of military campaign against major Western powers by both Iraq and Iran that was being orchestrated through — of all places — the Niger embassy in Rome (Senate Intelligence Report, p. 58). This wild idea of an Islamic campaign against the West, which necessitates preemption, is a favorite theme of the neocons — especially Ledeen.
At about this time, in late 2001, Ledeen was meeting in Rome with the head of SISMI, the Italian Defense Minister, Rhode, Larry Franklin, and Ghorbanifar (Mr. Franklin, also of OSP, is now accused of giving classified information to the Israeli front group AIPAC). The ostensible subject was Iran, but Ghorbanifar admitted to Newsweek (12/22/03) that Iraq was also discussed. This meeting was arranged outside of normal channels: neither the CIA nor the State Department was aware of it (Washington Monthly 9/04). When the CIA and the U.S. ambassador to Italy complained to Rice, her deputy Stephen Hadley sent word to Feith and Ledeen to stop the meetings. But the meetings did not stop. Gorbanifar’s colleagues, an Egyptian and an Iraqi, briefed an American official about the situation in Iraq, which the arms dealer said turned out just as he said, almost word for word. Ledeen arranged a third meeting, again going through mysterious channels. When the administration tried to explain these meetings as “chance encounters,” Ghorbanifar laughed at the idea. “We had a prior agreement. It involved a lot of discussion and a lot of people... we gave him the scenario, what would happen in the coming days in Iraq. And everything has happened… as we told him” (Ibid).
The above evidence is strong enough to have persuaded former CIA officers Ray McGovern and Vince Cannistraro that Ledeen and his colleagues originally forged the Niger yellowcake uranium documents. Needless to say, if this is so, it would demonstrate that the Iraq War was a fabrication from its inception, even before 9/11. It would also explain another oddity: Pat Buchanan’s complaint that the administration has not shown enough outrage over the discovery of this forgery.
I have explained above why I think the Fitzgerald investigation poses a real danger to the White House. Which is not to predict with certainty that this Special Counsel proceeding will do to Bush what a previous one did to Nixon. The balance of power is not there yet. In fact, Senate Intelligence Chair Pat Roberts had already announced he wants to review the Special Counsel investigation “who has been investigating the Plame case for nearly two years” (Reuters 7/24/05). Since Roberts is a shameless water carrier on Iraq for the White House, this is clearly the first shot across the bow for Fitzgerald. In fact, there may have been some technical violations of the Special Counsel law when Fitzgerald was appointed; the counsel should have been selected from outside the government, and his new charge was supposed to take precedence over his professional life. Yet he is still the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois. This could be cured by letting that position expire in October. There will be other attacks on Fitzgerald, as there were on Lawrence Walsh. He’s cutting too close to the bone.
It is interesting that the new Republican candidate for Bernie Sanders’ Vermont congressional seat is running on a platform to impeach Bush. It is also interesting that in Cincinnati, a conservative Democrat, Paul Hackett is running a close race against his opponent in an overwhelmingly GOP area. This bodes ill for Bush and Cheney for next year’s elections. If the elections next year are honest (or indeed, if they are rigged in the Democrats’ favor this time), and the Democrats take back Congress, I see no reason why impeachment should not begin.
I have tried to show here the three basic elements necessary to prove criminal conspiracy: a viable working background that shows the links between the conspirators; a provable intent, and if possible, motive for the crime; and the demonstration of specific acts (and if the enterprise was successful, a result) in furtherance of the conspiracy. The combination of the Downing Street Minutes and Fitzgerald’s investigation provides clear and convincing evidence to establish such an enterprise. It is clear that from April of 2002, the British cooperated with Bush to fabricate the war, and people like Clare Short and Jack Straw and Richard Dearlove will be valuable witnesses in an impeachment hearing. So would have the late Dr. David Kelly, one of whose final messages was reportedly directed to Judith Miller.
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