More Sand In Our Faces

Within hours of the verdict that Lewis “Scooter” Libby had “obstructed justice” – had prevented Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald from finding out whether a crime had been committed in the “outing” of CIA Non-Official Cover operative Valerie Plame and her cover, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, and if so, who had committed it – the Cheney Cabal and its media sycophants were vehemently attacking Fitzgerald, accusing him of prosecutorial misconduct for even attempting to find that out.

The Cabal argument is that Fitzgerald “knew” going in that then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was syndicated columnist Bob Novak’s “primary source” for the “outing” of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

However, no evidence has yet surfaced that Armitage was the primary source.

In fact, on the basis of a taped conversation that Armitage had at that time with Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, introduced into evidence at Libby’s trial, it appears Armitage didn’t even know the name of “Wilson’s wife,” much less that she was a NOC CIA agent whose cover was Brewster-Jennings.

As of this writing, Fitzgerald still doesn’t know who leaked that information to Novak, nor does he know if the leaking was a deliberate attempt to destroy the career of NOC Valerie Plame and hundreds – perhaps thousands – of her Brewster-Jennings cohorts.

For, make no mistake, if the seemingly authoritative revelations about Brewster-Jennings are basically correct, serious damage has been done to our intelligence community and to our National Security by that outing.

So, was the outing of Plame and Brewster-Jennings deliberate, or not?

In a Truthout column written on the eve of the trial Jason Leopold noted that –

“A list of potential witnesses released by Libby’s defense attorneys and Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor trying the case, reads like a who’s who of pre-war Iraq planning. It not only may offer the first on-the-record account of the details that led to the leak of the CIA officer, but may also provide a window in which to see how the Bush administration manipulated intelligence to make a case for war – a war that has resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians.

“Many of the officials identified as potential witnesses were members of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which came together in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. WHIG was founded by Bush’s chief of staff Andrew Card and operated out of the vice president’s office. The WHIG was not only responsible for selling the Iraq War, but it took great pains to discredit anyone who openly disagreed with the official Iraq War story.”

Great Zot! WHIG operated out of the vice president’s office and was responsible for discrediting anyone – in and out of government – who openly disagreed with the Cheney Cabal plan to invade and occupy Iraq?

Well, the Cheney Cabal had managed to get into the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD capabilities a hotly disputed allegation that Saddam had attempted to import thousands of aluminum tubes, which, according to National Security Advisor Condi Rice were “only really suited for nuclear weapons programs … centrifuge programs.”

Now, according to David Corn and Michael Isikoff,

“A shipment of the tubes was seized in Jordan under an operation headed by Valerie Plame Wilson.  She oversaw the operation that intercepted these tubes that were then shipped back to the CIA.”

Valerie Plame had reportedly “left” Brewster-Jennings and had become Valerie Wilson, an official CIA employee, on January 1, 2001.

“She [Wilson] actually was Chief of Operations for the Joint Task on Iraq.  It’s part of the Counter-proliferation Division which is part of the super-secret Operations Directorate.  So she was actually in charge of overseeing and running operations for two years prior to the invasion that were designed to find evidence of Iraq’s WMD’s.” 

What happened to the aluminum tubes Valerie Wilson seized?

A single CIA analyst – later code-named “Joe Centrifuge” to protect his identity – came to the conclusion that these tubes could only be used for a nuclear centrifuge to enrich uranium for a nuclear bomb.

But an internationally recognized expert on uranium-enrichment, David Albright, publicly questioned – on technical grounds – the suitability of such aluminum-tubes for centrifuges as early as September 2002.

(As did experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency.)

National Security Council and CIA officials told Leopold that Cheney had visited CIA headquarters and asked several CIA officials “to dig up dirt on Albright,” and to put together a dossier that would discredit his work that could be distributed to the media.  

Now, Joseph C. Wilson IV, without revealing his mission to Niger a year earlier, had been openly discrediting the Cheney Cabal war plan. He had even written an article in the March 3, 2003 edition of The Nation.

“The upcoming military operation also has one objective, though different from the several offered by the Bush Administration.

“This war is not about weapons of mass destruction. The intrusive inspections are disrupting Saddam’s programs, as even the Administration has acknowledged.

“Nor is it about terrorism. Virtually all agree war will spawn more terrorism, not less. It is not even about liberation of an oppressed people. Killing innocent Iraqi civilians in a full frontal assault is hardly the only or best way to liberate a people.

“The underlying objective of this war is the imposition of a Pax Americana on the region and installation of vassal regimes that will control restive populations.”

Then, on May 6, 2003, Nicholas Kristof dropped this bombshell:

“I’m told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president’s office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the CIA and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.”

Vice president’s office?

Well, that tore it. Go WHIG! Find out who that former Ambassador was. Dig up dirt on him! Discredit him!

Who was it? Joe Wilson? The guy who’s been questioning for months our motives in print and on TV?

Result? A Top Secret memo [.pdf] prepared for Under-Secretary of State Marc Grossman, who was, according to the Libby indictment, responding to a request from Scooter Libby for an explication of Wilson’s mission to Niger and the consequences thereof.

“In a February 19, 2002 meeting, convened by Valerie Wilson, a CIA WMD manager and the wife of Joe Wilson, he previewed his plans and the rationale for going to Niger…”

It was basically this memo that Secretary Powell shared with others aboard Air Force One on Bush’s trip to Africa, which began on July 7, 2003.

Notice that it makes no mention of Valerie Plame.

In fact, insofar as the evidence introduced at Libby’s trial is concerned, there is only one place where the name “Valerie Plame” occurs prior to Novak’s column of July 14, 2003.

In Judith Miller’s notes of her 2-hour long meeting of 8 July, 2003 with Scooter Libby.

Libby has testified that the vice president directed him to meet with Miller on that date and personally wrote out the points he wanted Libby to make.

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.