The Facts Machine

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Friday, July 15, 2005

NEW WRINKLE: STATE DEPT MEMO IDENTIFIES PLAME

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

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

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

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

Investigators are also trying to determine whether the gist of the information in the memo, including the name of the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, Mr. Wilson's wife, had been provided to the White House even earlier, said another person who has been involved in the case. Investigators have been looking at whether the State Department provided the information to the White House before July 6, 2003, when her husband publicly criticized the way the administration used intelligence to justify the war in Iraq, the person said.
What does this mean? Well, now we may have a means by which the Plame leakers in the administration found out about her identity. Surely Karl Rove didn't come across such information this way, right? Right?

Now we also see why Rove's sympathetic anonymous surrogates leaked his account of the Novak conversations when they did: They wanted to hold off as long as possible, but get it out there in advance of tonight's revelation.

UPDATE: Hmm, John Tierney might want to get in touch with his paper's news department.

UPDATE: For the interest of clarity, Kevin Drum gives us a helpful timeline:
So: the was memo written June 10, Wilson's op-ed appeared on July 6, and Powell got a copy of the memo on Air Force One on July 7. Karl Rove spoke to Robert Novak about Plame on July 8 and to Matt Cooper on July 11. Did Rove — or someone else in the White house who then passed it on to Rove — learn about Plame from the memo? Maybe.
Hmm.

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