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Have you seen this?! Daily Kos Plame Leak Timeline (Gannon) This is GOOD!
Plame Leak Timeline II... the case is made (Gannon)
by spiderleaf
Sat Feb 5th, 2005 at 18:28:36 PDT
This diary is part II of the meta-diary on the Plame leak to Novak/ Gannon.

While I have laid out the case as best I could from all the information available, I welcome suggestions and comments from all.

Special thanks to Kiw for his/her help. Thanks to all Kossacks who have continued to dig for information on this affair... this diary couldn't have been even contemplated without you!

My conclusion: Gannon was planted by the WH (Rove) in April 2003 as questions surrounding the invasion of Iraq and the intelligence used were starting to be raised by the real reporters on the beat and to assist the neo-con cause as necessary in promoting the Bush agenda. He became useful early on during the Plame leak.

** This is just part of the story... there is some amazing work that is still being compiled by SusanG, NYBri, Creve, Marie, etc. etc. that will make the full case against Gannon... but... I'm comfortable saying at this point that this guy was planted and the Plame memo was leaked to him.

The timeline and analysis/ conclusions below the fold (warning... long)

Diaries :: spiderleaf's diary :: ::
March 29, 2003 - Talon News website registered

April 3, 2003 - Gannon is credentialed and appears in the WH press room

May 6, 2003 - Kristof in NY Times mentions Wilson trip to Niger (no names mentioned) and that the fabled 16 words in the SOTU came from forged documents

June 8, 2003 - Rice on Meet the Press refutes Kristofs claim

June 13, 2003 - Kristof responds and sticks by his claim. Still Wilson's name not revealed /

June 23, 2003 - Jeff Gannon registers as a user with (originally registered on January 19, 2003 as "The Conservative Guy", but only posted twice)

July 6, 2003 - Wilson writes NY Times Op-Ed criticizing Bush remarks on Iraq yellowcake purchase in Niger as relying on forged documents. He states the CIA provided this intelligence to the WH prior to the SOTU in Jan '03.

July 7, 2003 The White House retracted the Niger allegation, which is its sole admission to date of a flaw in the case for war, which was built on charges of an illegal Iraqi arsenal that has not been found.

July 11, 2003 - Tenet responds and says the decision to send him was the CIA's

July 14, 2003 - Novak outs Plame: first mention of her name and that she allegedly recommended Wilson for the post.

"Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. "
July 15, 2003 - Gannon posts for the first time on as "Jeff Gannon" ;name=jeff%20gannon

July 22, 2003 - Newsday reports that their Intelligence Sources confirmed that Plame was undercover until Novak outed her.

Novak - `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.'
July 24, 2003 - debuts online

July 24, 2003 - Joe Wilson appears on The Daily Show and says he was asked to be part of the Bush/ Cheney reelection effort prior to his Op-Ed article.

Late July, 2003 - The CIA files a "crime report" with the Department of Justice (DOJ), suggesting the leak of Wilson's wife's name and covert status might entail criminal acts.

September 23, 2003 - The CIA submits a standard 11 part questionnaire used by the Department of Justice to determine whether an investigation is warranted. (Milbank and Schmidt, "Justice Department Launches Criminal Probe of Leak, Wash. Post, Oct. 1, 2003 at A01).

September 26, 2003 - John Dion, Director of the DOJ's Counterespionage section decides to pursue a criminal investigation.

September 28, 2003 - A source in the administration confirms that two senior administration officials contacted at least 6 reporters about the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. The source claims that, "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge." He stated that he was sharing the information because the disclosure was "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility." (Allen and Priest, "Bush Administration is Focus of Inquiry," Wash. Post. Sept. 28, 2003 at A01.)

President Bush's aides promise to cooperate with any DOJ inquiries, but admit that "Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role" in the leak. (Allen, "Bush Aides Say They'll Cooperate With Probe Into Intelligence Leak," Wash. Post. Sept. 29, 2003 at A01).

September 29, 2003 - On CNN's Crossfire, Novak explains, "Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing. ... They asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else. According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative, and not in charge of undercover operatives. So what is the fuss about, pure Bush-bashing?" ("Crossfire," CNN, Sept. 29, 2003).

Wilson responds: "Bob Novak called me before he went to print with the report. And he said, a CIA source had told him that my wife was an operative. He was trying to get a second source...After the article appeared, I called him and I said, `You told me it was a CIA source. You wrote senior administration officials. What was it, CIA or senior administration?' He said to me, `I misspoke the first time I spoke to you.' That makes it senior administration sources" ("Paula Zahn Now," CNN, Sept. 29, 2003)

About his partisanship, Wilson responds, "...Novak also said that I was a Clinton appointee. In actual fact, my first political appointment was as ambassador. And I was appointed by George H.W. Bush, the first President Bush. So I really am apolitical in all of this. (Id.)

Sept 29, 2003 - Clifford D. May in the National Review Online tries to provide cover for Novak by stating that Plame's identity was common knowledge and openly questions Wilson's motivations due to his partisan activities.

On July 11, I wrote a piece for NRO arguing that Mr. Wilson had no basis for that conclusion -- and that his political leanings and associations (not disclosed by the Times and others journalists interviewing him) cast serious doubt on his objectivity.
On July 14, Robert Novak wrote a column in the Post and other newspapers naming Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative.

That wasn't news to me. I had been told that -- but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhand manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of.

However, the fact that someone not working in the WH told May does not erase the sources Novak claims and if May really did think it was common knowledge, he would have no reason not to disclose it in his July 11 column. In fact, contrary to what he writes below, it could have bolstered his claims against the credibility of Wilson, as Novak made clear in his articles, since according to the WH the CIA bungled the intelligence and made the President look foolish (at the least) in the SOTU. So, revealing that Wilson was `handpicked' by his wife, a CIA operative, would have shown that the CIA chose to send a former ambassador vs. an intelligence operative for patronage reasons... which is what we can assume Novak was trying to plant.

May says:

I chose not to include it (I wrote a second NRO piece on this issue on July 18) because it didn't seem particularly relevant to the question of whether or not Mr. Wilson should be regarded as a disinterested professional who had done a thorough investigation into Saddam's alleged attempts to purchase uranium in Africa.
Sept. 30, 2003 Another journalist confirms receiving a call from an administration official divulging Wilson's wife's name and occupation. (Allen and Millbank, Wash. Post, Sept. 30, 2003).

Questions about Karl Rove's involvement are raised by numerous news sources. "Sources close to the former president say Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign after he planted a negative story with columnist Robert Novak." ("Countdown with Keith Olbermann, MSNBC, Sept. 29, 2003, citing Ron Suskind, "Why Are These Men Laughing," Esquire, Jan. 2003).

Torie Clark, former spokesperson for the Pentagon said people are "Constantly aware of . If you are in a position that you're going to be the recipient of classified information, you have gotten briefings, you get repeated briefings, depending on how long you are in there. You sign papers that say you are fully aware of the consequences if you leak classified information. Secretary Rumsfeld made it a point to regularly and frequently speak about the problems of leaking classified information." ("Paula Zahn Now," CNN Sept. 29, 2003).

September 30, 2003 - Text of an e-mail to White House staff Tuesday from counsel Alberto R. Gonzales about the Justice Department's investigation about the leak of a CIA officer's identity:

"We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee. must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the department's investigation."
A follow up email was sent asking staff to save all records of any kind relating to the Ambassadors trip to Niger, his wife's relationship with the CIA, any contact with the press about these topics, and any contact at all with journalists Robert Novak, Knut Royce, Timothy M. Phelps

Eleven hours pass between when the White House is notified of the investigation and when administration officials asked staff to preserve records. (Editorial, "Investigating Leaks," NYT, Oct. 2, 2003).

Sept. 30, 2003 USA Today says of Karl Rove, " has a reputation for the behind-the-scenes maneuvering and political shenanigans that are part of the portfolio of most political operatives -- but not necessarily top White House officials." (Judy Keen, "Finger-pointing finds a familiar target in Rove, USA Today, Sept. 30, 2003)

Wilson explains that he received phone calls from journalists, stating `I just got off the phone with Karl Rove. He tells me your wife is fair game.' ("Nightline," ABC, Sept. 30, 2003)

October 1, 2003 - Ex-CIA analyst Larry Johnson confirms that Wilson's wife was an undercover operative: "I worked with this woman... She has been undercover for three decades, she is not, as Bob Novak suggested, a CIA analyst...people she meets with overseas could be compromised. When you start tracing back who she met with, even people who innocently met with her, who are not involved in CIA operations, could be compromised. For these journalists to argue that this is no big deal and if I hear another Republican operative suggesting that well, this was just an analyst, fine, let them go undercover." ("Newshour," PBS, Sept. 30, 2003)

Oct 1, 2003 - Novak writes another column and contradicts his earlier statements.

"This story began July 6 when Wilson went public and identified himself as the retired diplomat who had reported negatively to the CIA in 2002 on alleged Iraq efforts to buy uranium yellowcake from Niger. I was curious why a high-ranking official in President Bill Clinton's National Security Council (NSC) was given this assignment."

- July column: "That's where Joe Wilson came in. His first public notice had come in 1991 after 15 years as a Foreign Service officer when, as U.S. charge in Baghdad, he risked his life to shelter in the embassy some 800 Americans from Saddam Hussein's wrath. My partner Rowland Evans reported from the Iraqi capital in our column that Wilson showed "the stuff of heroism." President George H.W. Bush the next year named him ambassador to Gabon, and President Bill Clinton put him in charge of African affairs at the National Security Council until his retirement in 1998."
So right off the bat, Novak misinforms. Wilson was a hero in the H.W. Bush administration, had worked almost his entire career to that point under the Reagan administration and was then rewarded with a higher level position in the Clinton administration.

"During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger. When I called another official for confirmation, he said: "Oh, you know about it." The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue.
At the CIA, the official designated to talk to me denied that Wilson's wife had inspired his selection but said she was delegated to request his help. He asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause "difficulties" if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I would not have used her name."

July story: Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.
What a bunch of weasel words. The CIA official asked Novak not to use her name and said it would cause difficulties... that meaning is quite clear if you know anything about undercover CIA operations. So which is it? Why would the CIA official deny to Novak that Plame had suggested Wilson be chosen while the two Senior administration officials stated she had? The only explanation that makes sense now is that the Administration officials leaked the Feb 2002 classified document to Novak but the CIA official refused to do so, or to even confirm it.

Oct. 1, 2003 - Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) Says that Bush needs to be proactive: "He has that main responsibility to see this through and see it through quickly, and that would include, if I was president, sitting down with my vice president and asking what he knows about it" ("Capital Report," CNBC, Oct. 1, 2003)

Oct. 1, 2003 - Wayne Slater, a Karl Rove biographer notes a patter of unethical behavior: "I don't know who leaked what to whom. Most people don't know the facts here. And both Bob Novak and Karl Rove have it didn't happen. But I have to say that it certainly was consistent with the Karl Rove that I know. If he didn't do this, he certainly has a pattern of activity over the 15 years, 20 years that I've known him where he has done similar things." ("Paula Zahn Now," CNN, Oct. 1, 2003).

James Moore, another Rove biographer thinks he must have known: "After having watched Mr. Rove for all of these years, I know full well, and anybody who knows the way he works, that something of this nature does not happen without Karl checking the yes box...I'm saying that if Mr. Rove is not involved, I'll eat the paperback copy of my own book because this is a guy who controls everything, and he has a history of putting a layer of protection between himself and other people, using other operatives to get things done." ("Buchanan & Press," MSNBC, Oct. 1, 2003)

Oct 2, 2003 - The White House begins changing its tone: "Bush aides began to adjust their response to the expanding probe. They reigned in earlier, broad portrayals of innocence in favor of more technical arguments that it is possible the disclosure was made without knowledge that a covert operative was being exposed and therefore might not have been a crime." (Milbank and Allen, "Outside Probe of Leaks Is Favored," Wash. Post, Oct 2, 2003).

Aha. And this is why they needed Gannon too. Novak and NRO are well known "conservative" mouthpieces and therefore their claims to have known all about Plame can be questioned. But if a new, fresh off the boat journalist at an unknown news organization knew about her too... well, then it was common knowledge and therefore no crime was committed by leaking her identity. But it takes a bit of time to get him up to speed on the plan... and boy do they need to do damage control, and soon.

The Washington Post-ABC News Poll reveals that:

81% believe the leak to be a serious matter

72% believe the leak came from the White House

69% believe the investigation should be handled by a special investigator

Oct. 2, 2003 - John Dion assembles a half-dozen FBI agents from the counterintelligence and inspections division to conduct the investigation. (Anderson, "FBI Creates Team to Investigate CIA Leak, AP Online, Oct.2, 2003). However, questions of bias arise again when it is revealed that Dion will report to Robert McCallum, Assistant Attorney General, who is an old friend of the President's from Yale. Both were members of the Skull and Bones Society. ("Schmitt and Chen, "Leak Inquiry Embarks on a Long Road," L.A. Times, Oct. 2, 2003 at 14)
October 2, 2003 - The investigation is extended to the Departments of Defense and State. The DOJ sends letters to ask that any relevant information be preserved. ("Leak Inquiry Extends to Defense and State Departments, AP, Oct. 3, 2003)

The Washington Post reveals that Rove worked on three of Ashcroft's campaigns in the 1980's and 1990's. Further, Jack Oliver, Ashcroft's former chief of staff is now the deputy finance chairman of President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign. (Bumiller and Lichtblau, "Attorney General Is Closely Linked to Inquiry Figures," NYT, Oct. 2, 2003)

A Republican aide on Capitol Hill described the White House's efforts as "slime and defend...There's nervousness on the part of the party leadership, but no defections in the sense of calling for an independent counsel." An F.B.I. official commented that "It wouldn't surprise me if we went a little bit slower on this one just because it is so high-profile. This will get scrutinized at our headquarters and at Justice in a way that lesser, routine investigations wouldn't." (Stevensen and Lichtblau, "White House Looks to Manage Fallout Over CIA Leak Inquiry," NYT, Oct. 2, 2003)

October 3, 2003 - The White House gives its staff until 5pm on Tuesday, October 7 to turn over documents, phone logs, etc. relating to the leak. White House counsel estimates that it will take two weeks to review the collection and turn it over to the DOJ. ("Bush Unsure if Leaker Will Be Caught," AP, Oct. 7, 2003).

October 4, 2003 - The Washington Post reports that the leak may have exposed numerous other undercover CIA agents and their sources. The disclosure of her name and undercover status blew the cover of her CIA front company -it has not been confirmed whether other agents were using the same front company, and therefore have been outed too. (Pincus and Allen, "Leak of Agent's Name Causes Exposure of CIA Front Firm, Wash. Post, Oct. 4, 2003).

Enter Novak again... to broadcast to the world the name of that front company while trying to push the partisan politics story on Wilson.

October 4, 2003 - Novak "reveals" that Plame gave $1000 to Gore's campaign and Wilson gave $2000.

On the same day in 1999 that retired diplomat Joseph Wilson was returned $1,000 of $2,000 he contributed to Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore a month earlier because it exceeded the federal limit, his CIA-employee wife gave $1,000 to Gore using a fictitious identification for herself.
He then slips up in his own story and confirms that he knows Plame was working under official cover, i.e. she was undercover.

In making her April 22, 1999, contribution, Valerie E. Wilson identified herself as an "analyst" with "Brewster-Jennings & Associates." No such firm is listed anywhere, but the late Brewster Jennings was president of Socony-Vacuum oil company a half-century ago. Any CIA employee working under "non-official cover" always is listed with a real firm, but never an imaginary one.
October 5, 2003 - Time reveals that Attorney General Ashcroft paid Karl Rove $746,000 for his work on three campaigns in the late 1980's and early 1990's. (Duffy, "Leaking With a Vengeance," Time, Oct. 5, 2003.)

October 6, 2003 - Newsweek reports that Chris Matthews of MSNBC's "Hardball" was the journalist who called Mr. Wilson and said, "I just got off the phone with Karl Rove who said your wife is fair game." At the very least, those familiar with the conversation said "it was reasonable to discuss who sent Wilson to Niger." (Newsweek, Oct. 13, 2003 issue)

Oct 6, 2003 - Gannon (Talon News) writes an article about Wilson

It was after his article appeared that columnist Robert Novak revealed his wife's name, calling her a "CIA operative." Novak discussed the possibility that Wilson was selected for the assignment in Africa because of the position and influence of his wife at the CIA.
It is still unknown as to the reason Wilson was sent on the February 2002 mission to Niger, but allowed that it could have been at his wife's suggestion. Some have suggested that his clear partisanship cast doubt on the findings in his report.

Gannon makes clear that he doesn't know anything other than what is in official reports as of Oct. 6th... yet 22 days later his interview with Wilson is published where he states definitively the existence of the CIA memo and the reason Wilson was sent to Niger. But he is in the loop enough to know he needs to push the partisan politics aspect in his article.

October 7, 2003 - President Bush says that he is not sure if the Justice Department will determine source of leak. (Stevenson and Lichtblau, "Leaker May Remain Elusive, Bush Suggests," New York Times, Oct. 8, 2003.)

October 7, 2003 - White House officials turn in investigation documents to meet 5 PM deadline. Administration officials said the White House counsel's office would review investigation materials before submitting them to the Justice Department to determine relevancy. Officials also left open the possibility that the counsel's office might assert executive privilege on some or withhold all or parts of others for national security reasons. Senator Schumer said, "I am very troubled by the fact that the White House counsel seems to be a gatekeeper, and I want to know what precautions Justice is taking to ensure that it gets all relevant information from the administration." (Stevenson and Lichtblau, "Leaker May Remain Elusive, Bush Suggests," New York Times, Oct. 8, 2003.)

October 7, 2003 - Before an internal investigation is conducted, the White House rules out Karl Rove, vice presidential chief of staff Lewis Libby, and National Security Council senior director Elliott Abrams as possible sources for the news leak. (Mikkelsen, "White House Says Three Senior Aids Innocent In Leak," Reuters, October 7, 2003)

The Washington Post reports that the current controversy is not the first time that Novak has used classified information from foreign policy hardliners. In December 1975, Novak got a classified leak, that President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger were ready to make concessions to the Soviet Union to save the SALT II treaty. Donald Rumsfeld, then, as now, the secretary of defense, intervened to block Kissinger. The main leak suspect then was Richard Perle, then an influential aid to Senator Henry Jackson (D-Wash.) and now a member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and a confident of neoconservatives in the Bush Administration. (Milbank, "Novak Leak Column Has Familiar Sound," Washington Post, October 7, 2003)

October 8, 2003 - Steve Gilliard at reports that Robert Novak not only exposed an active CIA officer, but the cover firm that she used, to prove that she is a Democrat who gave money to Al Gore. The firm's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential campaign.

October 9, 2003 - Senators Daschle, Levin, Biden and Schumer call for appointment of a special counsel and note five missteps of the Administration/DOJ: 1) the DOJ waited three days before notifying the WH of the investigation, 2) the WH waited 11 hours before asking its staff to preserve any evidence, 3) the State and Defense Departments were tipped off that the investigation was coming to their divisions, 4) WH spokesperson Scott McClellan publicly ruled out Karl Rove, Lewis Libby and Elliot Abrams as suspects, and 5) the Attorney General's conflicts of interest.

October 14, 2003 - Senator Tom Daschle asked CIA director George Tenet to conduct a damage assessment for the leak. (Reuters, Oct. 14, 2003.)

October 15, 2003 - The New York Times reports that senior criminal prosecutors and FBI officials criticized the Attorney General's failure to recuse himself or appoint a special counsel. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that whether the Attorney General should step aside has been discussed in the department and by his own senior advisors. They "fear Mr. Ashcroft could be damaged by continuing accusations that as an attorney general with a long career in Republican partisan politics, he could not credibly lead a criminal investigation that centered on the aides to a Republican president." (Johnston and Lichtblau, "Senior Federal Prosecutors and FBI Officials Fault Ashcroft Over Leak Inquiry," NYT, October 16, 2003)

White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales claims that Congressional suggestions about how to handle the leak are unconstitutional: "We believe it is inconsistent with the constitution's separation-of-powers principles for members of Congress to direct the president's management of White House employees..." (Reuters, Oct. 15, 2003)

October 17, 2003 - David S. Cloud from the Wall Street Journal is the first to mention (other than Novak) the existence of the 2002 CIA memo that purports to show that Plame recommended Wilson for the Niger mission.

An internal government memo addresses some of the mysteries at the center of the White House leak investigation and could help investigators in the search for who disclosed the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, according to two people familiar with the memo.
The memo, prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel, details a meeting in early 2002 where CIA officer Valerie Plame and other intelligence officials gathered to brainstorm about how to verify reports that Iraq had sought uranium yellowcake from Niger.

Ms. Plame, a member of the agency's clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested at the meeting that her husband, Africa expert and former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, could be sent to Niger to investigate the reports, according to current and former government officials familiar with the meeting at the CIA's Virginia headquarters. Soon after, midlevel CIA officials decided to send him, say intelligence officials.

Classified memos, like the one describing Ms. Plame's role, have limited circulation and investigators are likely to question all those known to have received it. Intelligence officials haven't denied Ms. Plame was involved in the decision to send Mr. Wilson, but they have said she was not "responsible" for the decision.

So Cloud is relying on "two people" who had seen the memo, but presumably not himself. And the intelligence officials he spoke with subsequently did not deny (which also means would not go on the record to confirm) she was involved, but would go on the record to say she was not responsible for the decision.

He then goes on...

According to current and former officials familiar with the memo, it describes interagency discussions of the yellowcake mystery: whether the reports of Iraq's uranium purchases were credible; which agency should pay for any further investigation; and the suggestion that Mr. Wilson could be sent to check out the allegations. Other officials with knowledge of the memo wouldn't say if it mentions Ms. Plame by name as the one who suggested Mr. Wilson, or if her identity is shielded but obvious because of what is known now about the mission. Operations officers like Ms. Plame are sometimes identified only by their first names even in interagency meetings.
My interpretation of this is that Cloud was told of the memo by "two people" who had seen it and then tried to get confirmation from sources at the CIA who would not confirm that Plame was even mentioned by name in said memo.

October 21, 2003 - Associate Deputy Attorney General Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he regularly briefs the Attorney General about the progress of the investigation. This includes the names of the people being interviewed, and enough detail "for him to understand meaningfully what's going on in the investigation." (Lichtblau, NYT, Oct. 22, 2003).

October 22, 2003 - The Associated Press reports that two former CIA officers are asking the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate the leak. Jim Marcinkowski, a case officer in the late 1980's and Larry Johnson, former State Department Deputy Chief of Counterterrorism, are concerned with the appearance of impropriety. Mr. Johnson said, "there's a lot they can do without undermining the criminal investigation."(AP, NYT, Oct. 22, 2003).

October 28, 2003 - During a press conference, the President is asked why he has not requested his staff to sign affidavits denying involvement. He responds, "the best group of people to do that so that you believe the answer is the professionals at the Justice Department."

October 28, 2003 - Gannon publishes his interview with Wilson.

TN: An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?
Gannon also continues to push the partisan politics meme.

TN: You have mentioned that you are not partisan. Doesn't that appear to be the case considering the candidates you've supported?
Wilson: Including Bush. When Ed Gillespie was running around doing his little schpiel, he knew that I contributed to the Bush campaign but decided he would selectively use information on candidates I have supported to bolster a case that simply cannot be made. I contributed to the Bush campaign, the Gore campaign, and I contributed to the campaign of Ed Royce on several occasions. He is a conservative Republican from Orange County, California, and I have contributed to a number of other candidates. I contributed to the Kerry campaign after I made my trip out to Niger -- well after that. Almost a year and a half after that. But I will tell you this: I reserve the right to participate in the political process of my country just like any other citizen.

I was named ambassador to Gabon by George Herbert Walker Bush. One of the highlights of my professional career was serving a charges d'affair in Baghdad in the run up to the gulf war. When I came back to Washington and was introduced to the war cabinet, President Bush introduced me as a true American hero, and I take great pride in that.

TN: Your activities of late have some suggesting that there's certainly a partisan motivation.


TN: The so-called neo-cons, who do you think that they are?

And if you recall, from his October 6, 2003 article he says this:

Some have suggested that his clear partisanship cast doubt on the findings in his report.
As detailed by Cloud above, the CIA (presumably, because he just says "intelligence" officials) would not confirm that Plame suggested this or even that she was identified by name. Neither would Novak's CIA source. So how is Gannon able to make this claim definitively... he may not have seen the memo, but someone definitely told him about it. It is possible that he just decided to use the info from Novak and Cloud to paint Wilson into a corner, but there is no way he would have known that this was indeed accurate and then his "gotcha" moment (i.e. Wilson lied to me) would have been for naught since no one went on the record (other than Novak's "two senior administration officials") to verify the claim. This is also the first time Gannon drops all qualifiers - i.e according to reports, some say, etc.

Except, once Gannon thought the storm had passed, he reveals that he was leaked the memo, or at least told of its contents... (sometime last year in an article on his website "Joe Wilson Lied and Owes George W. Bush and America (and Me) an Apology". There is no date stamp on the article)\'s%20Washington...

A memo written by an INR (Intelligence and Research) analyst who made notes of the meeting at which Wilson was asked to go to Niger sensed that something fishy was going on. That report made it to the outside world courtesy of some patriotic whistleblower that realized that a bag job was underway.

The classified document that slipped out sometime after the meeting put her name before the public, albeit a small group of inside-the-beltway types, but effectively ended the notion that she was still covert.


I raised all of these questions with Wilson in October 2003 in an interview for Talon News. Since I was aware of the INR report, I confronted him about it.

What is difficult to understand is the reason that the CIA would want to discredit this report. The first clue came when the agents from the FBI came to my home in March 2003 to question me in connection to the leak probe. I was flattered to think that I was important enough to be included among the luminaries like Andrea Mitchell, Tim Russert and Chris Matthews who were also named in a Justice Department subpoena of records from the White House. But most of the questions were about the INR report. They wanted to know where I got it and what I knew about it. Of course, as a journalist there wasn't much I could say without revealing my sources. I'm sure they were not satisfied, but it made me wonder why they were so interested in a document the CIA said was false.

So how is it that a journalist who only set up shop in March 2003 and received WH press credentials on April 3, 2003 and posts regularly on the bulletin boards, was "in the loop" enough to have knowledge of a classified CIA memo by October 2003, that supposedly only "inside-the-beltway types" knew about and no one at the CIA would confirm? There is only one conclusion. He was planted by, and used to help, the administration.

October 29, 2003 - The New York Times reports that Michael Mason, head of the FBI's Washington field office has been removed from the list of officials with access to the case. It is unclear whether Mr. Mason asked to be removed, or whether he was determined to be someone without "a need to know." (Johnston and Litchblau, NYT, 10/29/03)

November 3, 2003 - Part III of the Wilson/ Gannon interview is posted. And now the agenda is to discredit the CIA and push the story that Plame's name was already known so there was no crime in disclosing it.

TN: Nicholas Kristoff wrote in the New York Times recently that the CIA believes that Aldrich Ames may have betrayed your wife to the Russians prior to his arrest in 1994. That would make her not an undercover operative for the CIA in effect.
Wilson: I don't know where Kristoff got that. I think that there is a fair amount of material in the public record to suggest that there is a lot of concern that Mr. Ames betrayed a number of American operatives during his spying.

TN: Including your wife?

Wilson: I don't know about that. I can't tell you anything about that.

TN: But if that is in fact true, then the leak is not necessarily a leak.

Wilson: Let me put it to you this way, I don't believe that the CIA would refer this to the Justice Department frivolously, if they thought it was a frivolous matter or if it was not a leak that might be a violation of the Intelligence Agents Identification Act.

TN: There are some who are skeptical that the CIA is fully on board with our actions in Iraq.

Wilson: Well, the CIA is not a policy organization, the CIA is paid to provide the best intelligence information it can.

TN: So you don't believe the CIA has an agenda that's different from that of the White House?

Wilson: Well in the particular piece of this that I own, the trip to Niger, the CIA produced my report, but there were two other reports produced that said that "Gee this story of uranium going to Iraq is just bogus." Subsequent to that we now know this particular "16 words" were the subject of a number of telephone conversations and a couple of memoranda that somehow were lost in the system or forgotten about. But the two uncontested facts in this matter are the following: The 16 words in the State of the Union did not rise to inclusion in the State of the Union, that's the White House's statement. Had my report or the other two reports been accepted instead of this information that was based as we know on forgeries and even at the time didn't pass the smell test for an Italian weekly tabloid, then the President would not have found himself in this predicament. That is not a CIA betrayal of the political system, that is if anything a political betrayal of the intelligence assessment process.
And the second uncontested fact is that a national security asset's name was leaked to the American public in what may have been a crime but certainly is considered to be of sufficient concern to the CIA that they referred the matter to the Justice Department. Now in neither of those it seems to me do you have nefarious CIA involvement unless you are prepared to make the argument that the CIA would have "outed" one of its own, which seems to me to be highly, highly unlikely.

Gannon is definitely being the good soldier here. Call into question the patriotism and partisan politics of the CIA and help to build the case that Rummy needs a new spy agency (which he formed at some point in 2003) and keep pushing the case that there was no crime in the leak because Plame's name was common knowledge.

December 26, 2003 - The leak to Talon News is mentioned in the Washington Post in an article by By Mike Allen and Dana Milbank... d=true

Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.
CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting.

"It has been circulated around," one official said. CIA and State Department officials have refused to discuss the document.

On Oct. 28, Talon News, a news company tied to a group called GOP USA, posted on the Internet an interview with Wilson in which the Talon News questioner asks: "An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?"

Interestingly, these reporters weren't leaked the memo either... just relied on a "senior administration official" who had seen it to provide all the background. And once again, the CIA would not discuss the document.

December 30, 2003 - Attorney General Ashcroft recuses himself from the leak investigation. James Comey, Deputy Attorney General, appoints Patrick Fitzgerald, a U.S. Attorney, as "special" counsel.

December 30, 2003 - USAToday reports that head Bobby Eberle had landed an interview with Karl Rove at some point in the last year., a Web site run by Bobby Eberle, a Houston engineer with no previous journalism experience, scored an interview with President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove.
December 31, 2003 - While Deputy AG Comey would not comment on the progress of the investigation, he stated that "It's fair to say that an accumulation of facts throughout the course of the investigation over the last several months has led us to this point ." Legal experts surmise that the investigation is honing in on those close to the AG and/ or the President. (Eggen and Allen, "Ashcroft Recuses Self From Leak Case," Wash. Post, Dec. 31, 2003)

Some point in 2003 Rumsfeld sets up his own spy agency so as not to rely on the CIA (which the administration has been trying to discredit because they won't follow orders and just make things up to suit the neo-cons agendas)

The previously undisclosed organization, called the Strategic Support Branch, arose from Rumsfeld's written order to end his "near total dependence on CIA" for what is known as human intelligence. Designed to operate without detection and under the defense secretary's direct control, the Strategic Support Branch deploys small teams of case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists alongside newly empowered special operations forces.

Two longtime members of the House Intelligence Committee, a Democrat and a Republican, said they knew no details before being interviewed for this article.

Pentagon officials said they established the Strategic Support Branch using "reprogrammed" funds, without explicit congressional authority or appropriation. Defense intelligence missions, they said, are subject to less stringent congressional oversight than comparable operations by the CIA. Rumsfeld's dissatisfaction with the CIA's operations directorate, and his determination to build what amounts in some respects to a rival service, follows struggles with then-CIA Director George J. Tenet over intelligence collection priorities in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pentagon officials said the CIA naturally has interests that differ from those of military commanders, but they also criticized its operations directorate as understaffed, slow-moving and risk-averse.
January 1, 2004 - The Washington Post divulges the connection between Deputy AG Comey and Fitzgerald: "...Fitzgerald's personal friendship with No. 2 Department of Justice official James B. Comey Jr. - he is the godfather of one of Comey's children - leaves some critics complaining that top administration officials still have too much control over an investigation that is centered on the White House." (Von Drehle and Eggen, "Head of Leak Probe is Called Relentless," Wash. Post, Jan. 1, 2004)

January 2, 2004 - The Washington Post reports that Bush aides whose names have come up in FBI interviews will be asked to sign a one page form waiving their right to journalistic privilege. (Allen, "Bush Aides Face Request To Free Media To Give Names," Wash. Post, Jan. 3, 2004)

January 6, 2004 - White House spokesman Scott McClellan refuses to comment on whether the President will ask his staff to sign forms releasing the press from promises of confidentiality. As one government official put it, the forms are a "`quintessential cover-your-rear-end' move by investigators. `It provides political cover, because you can say you tried everything, and this is a very politically charged environment... There's no other value to it." (Allen, "No Word From Bush On Forms in Leak Probe," Wash. Post, Jan. 6, 2004)

January 22, 2004 - Time magazine reports that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has begun presenting evidence to a grand jury and White House staff have been notified that they may be subpoenaed for their information. Sources say that some staff have been asked to meet informally with Fitzgerald to discuss offers of immunity in exchange for their knowledge. (Lichtblau and Johnston, "Jury Said to Hear Evidence in CIA Leak," NY Times, Jan. 24, 2004)

Also, 10 ex-CIA officers write a letter to House leadership demanding a congressional investigation. The letter said it was time to "send an unambiguous message that the intelligence officers tasked with collecting or analyzing intelligence must never be turned into political punching bags." (Jehl, Ex-CIA Officers Seek Congressional Inquiry Into Leak of Undercover Officer's Name, Jan.22, 2004)

January 26, 2004 - Congressman Conyers, along with Congresswoman Pelosi, Congressman Waxman and Senators Daschle, Lieberman and Rockefeller ask the GAO to investigate whether the White House's response to the leak conforms with administrative security requirements.

January 30, 2004 - The CIA responds to Mr. Conyers' inquiry about its requests of the DOJ to investigate. CIA - DOJ contact proceeded as follows:

July 24, 2003: a CIA attorney leaves a phone message for the Chief of the Counterespionage Section with concerns about the articles, and noticing that a crimes report would be forthcoming

July 30, 2003: a letter is sent to the Criminal Division reporting a possible crime. It also explains that the CIA's Office of Security would be looking into the matter.

September 5, 2003: the July 30 letter is resent by fax

September 16, 2003: the CIA notifies the DOJ that its investigation is complete and recommends that the FBI undertake a full criminal investigation.

September 29, 2003: the DOJ notifies the CIA that the Counterespionage division has also requested an investigation

February 10, 2004 - It is confirmed that Ari Fleischer, Karl Rove, Scott McClellan, the President's press secretary and Adam Levine, a former press aide, testify before the grand jury. Several members of the Vice President's staff have also testified.
In addition to the grand jury proceedings, "prosecutors have conducted meetings with presidential aides that lawyers in the case described as tense and sometimes combative." Finally, Fitzgerald is conducting these interviews in secret, asking the subjects to sign confidentially agreements, and often staff are refusing to do so.

These lawyers also say that the prosecutors have evidence confirming that White House officials were extremely upset with the Wilson article, and with the CIA for sending him to Africa. (David Johnston, "Top Bush Aide is Questioned in CIA Leak," NY Times, Feb. 10, 2003; Allen and Schmidt, "Bush Aides Testify in Leak Probe," Wash. Post Feb. 10, 2004 at A1.)

March 5, 2004 - The grand jury subpoenas a week's worth of phone logs from Air Force One. (Mike Allen, "Leak Investigators to Get Phone Log," Wash. Post, Mar. 5, 2004)

March 9, 2004 - Gannon gets into a heated exchange with another poster of regarding the Grand Jury subpoena... and Gannon sticks to his talking points - Plame wasn't covert.

To: Peach
You are kind. What is interesting about this is that I have become ensnared in this matter because I asked questions of my government.

This may a chilling effect on freedom of the press.

All this commotion, but the central question has yet to be answered: At the time that Robert Novak's column was published, was Valerie Plame a "covert operative"?

The CIA has refused to comment on this very important point.

If she was not, then no crime has been committed and all communications between the administration and reporters is just gossip. ---Jeff Gannon


To: Jeff Gannon

That is simply not true, Jeff.

You are ensnared because you made reference to a government document, which appears to have been a forgery. You need to tell the Grand Jury who made you privy to that document. ---JohnGalt

To: Jeff Gannon
What was the document you referred to in the interview with Wilson? ---JohnGalt

To: JohnGalt

I disagree with your characterization of the document itself, but that aside, I maintain that I am under no obligation whatsoever to reveal my sources. That is a fundamental element of maintaining a free press. ---Jeff Gannon

Oops. Now that was a sloppy mistake Jeff. How can you disagree with the characterization of a classified document that you hadn't seen? Looks like you were leaked it after all... or you really trust your source...

June 3, 2004 - It is confirmed that the President has "consulted" an attorney to advise him about the investigation. Jim Sharp is a former assistant U.S. attorney and now has his own firm in Washington. While Mr. Sharp has not been retained, Bush says he will do that when it becomes necessary. (Mike Allen, "Bush Consuls Lawyer About CIA Leak," Wash. Post, June 3, 2004)

June 6, 2004 - The Washington Post reports that representatives of special prosecutor Fitzgerald have interviewed Vice President Dick Cheney. (Susan Schmidt and Mike Allen, "Leak Probe Appears to Be In Active Phase," Wash. Post, June 6, 2004)

June 16, 2004 - White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales testifies before the grand jury. (Susan Schmidt, "Bush Aide Testifies in Leak Probes," Wash. Post, June 16, 2004 at A7.)

June 23, 2004 - Washington Post reporter Glen Klesser is interviewed by the leak investigators. Lewis "Scooter" Libby signed a waiver and encouraged Klesser to discuss their conversations. Klesser confirmed that Libby did not refer at any time to uranium in Niger, Ambassador Wilson, or his wife.

June 24, 2004 - President Bush is Questioned by Fitzgerald. The interviewed lasted over an hour, and White House spokesperson confirmed that the President has retained private counsel. (Dana Bash, "Bush Interviewed in CIA Leak Probe" /)


Jeff Gannon was planted by the administration to disseminate their talking points unfettered by any journalism ethics or investigation shortly after the Iraq war, when the failure to find WMDs was becoming apparent. He became incredibly useful in L'Affaire Plame to continue to push the dual stories that a) Plame's name was already common knowledge and therefore `outing' her was not a crime and b) to continue to help discredit the CIA and Wilson.

Based on the evidence, I believe the 2002 CIA memo was leaked to Gannon when Novak became unusable and when the `mainstream' reporters with CIA contacts were not pushing the WH's preferred story line. They needed cover, and they got it.

And as is evidenced by his remarkable access to Scott McClellan and President Bush in the White House press room, to this day, he was rewarded handsomely...

And it continues as business as usual.

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grannylib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-06-05 11:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. Wow. There are media whores, and then there's Guckert/Gannon....
Wow. What a read.
Thanks! Passing this one on to EVERYONE I KNOW!!
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