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Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tidbits From Time

This article just out from Time has some interesting RWLDGate tidbits.

First, I think that Time may well have buried the lede. Here are the last three sentences of the Time article:
A source familiar with the memo says neither Powell nor Armitage spoke to the White House about it until after July 6. John McLaughlin, then deputy head of the CIA, confirms that the White House asked about the Wilson trip, but can't remember exactly when. One thing he's sure of, says McLaughlin, who has been interviewed by prosecutors, is that "we looked into it and found the facts of it, and passed it on."
The fact that John McLaughlin says the WH asked about the trip is potentially very significant: it tells us that the WH was actively interested in Joe Wilson and looking for information. Not very consistent with the passive role that the WH has suggested in played in all this. It would be interesting to know the time line of McLaughlin's "passed it on" quote, as well as the recipient(s) of this pass-along.

I'd bet a lot that the "familiar" source is Armitage -- as I've noted before, he's my bet for Foggy Throat, the former State Dept official who clearly wants this story to stay alive in the media. The no-contact-til-after-July-6 bit sure looks like Foggy Throat's attempt to steer both Armitage and Powell clear of blame for WH shenanigans; combined with McLaughlin's opening the door to the possibility that the WH heard about Joe Wilson's wife from CIA before July 6, this bit of info would suggest that the WH didn't learn about Joe Wilson's wife from Armitage or Powell.

Second, the Time artcle suggests that the first State Dept memo regarding Plame/Wilson may have been written as a result of Walter Pincus's June 12, 2003, WaPo article discussing Joe Wilson's trip (without using his name). Interesting wording:
The previously undisclosed fact gathering began in the first week of June 2003 at the CIA, when its public-affairs office received an inquiry about Wilson's trip to Africa from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. That office then contacted Plame's unit, which had sent Wilson to Niger, but stopped short of drafting an internal report. The same week, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Sources familiar with the memo, which disclosed Plame's relationship to Wilson, say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June. Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy then too.
The first two sentences suggest that CIA did not actually write a report about Pincus's article -- which did not out or in any way refer to Joe Wilson's wife (unlike the despicable Robert Novak's July 14, 2003, column, which did apparently out her, and which apparently led to the CIA's DOJ referral).

The third sentence suggests by implication -- but does not actually say -- that Pincus's article may have induced Grossman to ask Ford for the possibly key INR memo. The wording of the fourth sentence makes one think that the memo probably says "Plame" in reference to Joe Wilson's wife, though it's not entirely clear. That would be notable, if "Plame" was indeed Joe Wilson's wife's cover name, since one of the more intriguing questions in this escapade is why Novak used the name "Plame" rather than just "Joe Wilson's wife", or Valerie Wilson.

Drip.

Drip.

Update: PGL points out in the comments that the State memo was dated June 10, two days before Pincus's article hit the newstands. Good catch, PGL. Here's another possibility: Pincus, who covers State and intel stuff, may have started calling around a few days before the article hit. You would certainly expect a first-stringer like him to ask guys like Grossman, Ford and Bolton (or their flaks) about a story like this.

8 Comments:

Blogger PGL said...

Wasn't the memo written on 6/10, two days BEFORE the Pincus article?

7/31/2005 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Mark Thoma said...

Thanks for this.

8/01/2005 1:54 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7/30/2006 11:51 PM  

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