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Tilting at Windmills

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March 14, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

ARMITAGE AND PLAME....Today the Washington Post reports on a Vanity Fair article quoting a former Washington Post editor commenting on a book written by a Washington Post reporter and then asks their former editor if he was quoted accurately. He says he wasn't:

Vanity Fair is reporting that former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee says it is reasonable to assume former State Department official Richard L. Armitage is likely the source who revealed CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward.

In an article to be published in the magazine today, Bradlee is quoted as saying: "That Armitage is the likely source is a fair assumption." Armitage was deputy secretary of state in President Bush's first term.

...."I don't think I said it," Bradlee said. "I know who his source is, and I don't want to get into it....I have not told a soul who it is."

Hmmm. If Bradlee knows who Woodward's source is, and if he really did tell Vanity Fair that it was a "fair assumption" to suspect Armitage, then it's probably Armitage. But did VF writer Marie Brenner tape her interview with Bradlee? Inquiring minds want to know what Bradlee really said.

POSTSCRIPT: For what it's worth, Armitage certainly knew Plame's identity, and the Wall Street Journal suggested (indirectly) months ago that Armitage was a prime suspect to be Woodward's source. A fair assumption indeed.

Kevin Drum 1:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (51)

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Comments

So when is Ben Bradlee going to be subpoenaed by the special prosecutor?

Posted by: Bogey on March 14, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

So, why hasn't Fitzgerald subpoened both Bradlee and Armitage to testify under oath? If the latter was already deposed, he either lied or wasn't under oath.

Ftizgerald has gone as far as he's going to go. The Plame affair is just more water under the bridge.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 14, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Can we just skip to the third act, where Rove goes to Gitmo, and then President Cheney pardons him?

Posted by: craigie on March 14, 2006 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

The only problem with the theory is Armitage's character. Would Armitage have done it?

He does not seem a likely candidate to participate in some plot by the White House Iraq Group. So why would he make such an illegal disclosure?

Posted by: Bruce Wilder on March 14, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I thought that Woodward was more tight with people in the White House, as opposed to the State Department, but who knows.

Posted by: Ringo on March 14, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Fitzgerald already knows the source. Woodward supposedly had a confidentiality agreement in which his source freed him to testify but would not allow him to discuss their conversations publicly.

Posted by: B on March 14, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Yawn. Nobody cares about the Plame "scandal" any more since her "secret identity" as working for the CIA wasn't really secret in the first place.

This Chicago Tribune article exposes how one can discover thousands of CIA agents by just using the internet.

Link

"It's easy to track America's covert operatives. All you need to know is how to navigate the Internet."

For all you know, Bob Woodward and other journalists found out about Plame through the internet just like the Chicago Tribune says you can.

Posted by: Al on March 14, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK
For all you know, Bob Woodward and other journalists found out about Plame through the internet just like the Chicago Tribune says you can.

Al, as usual, nails it! Free Libby now! Put Google on trial instead! Santorum/Keyes '08!

Posted by: HappyConservative on March 14, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Armitage...armitage...armitage..

Isn't he the fellow who recently got promoted into an even tighter wagon-circle around Shotgun Dick?

Posted by: koreyel on March 14, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin is back to Plame/Rove posting? OMG.

Makes me think maybe Ogged wasn't so bad.

Posted by: MountainDan on March 14, 2006 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

"Kevin is back to Plame/Rove posting? OMG."

Can't we just have our Fitzmas already!?

Posted by: Freedom Fighter on March 14, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Al's too dumb to be allowed near a computer

Posted by: cleek on March 14, 2006 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

"fair assumption" doesn't mean "accurate conclusion":>

Posted by: Martin on March 14, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Irrelevant.

We've lost the PR war on this.

Scooter's got his "I forgot" defense, and the press accepts this, and this is the worldview they're pushing.

And if that fails, they've always got the "Cheney can declassify whatever he wants at any time." defense. And that also, is widely accepted by the press and the general public.

As much as I'd like to see this issue grow up into a real scandal; as much as I equate the outing of a CIA agent for character assassination to silence a critic of the lies that brought this nation to war, and killed tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civillians, and thousands of American soldiers, the equivalent of Treason of the highest order, which is a hanging offense, I don't see it happening, and I feel that energies devoted to rescuing our nation from the cabal of war-profiteers are better devoted to the Abramoff scandal.

We keep hearing about the "wide net" being cast, and I keep waiting for some big fish to be hauled in. There's linkage to Cunningham, there's linkage to finance fraud, DeLay, Ohio election fraud, Florida election fraud, Bush, the whole gang. It has our best potential.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on March 14, 2006 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Woodward has always said that his source mentioned Plame's identity "casually," that he or she had no partisan agenda in doing so, and that he or she was not trying to place her identity in the press. Those are not things that could be said about Rove or Libby. Fitzgerald knows about all this; and presumably, hasn't been lied to by Armitage. I wonder whether Armitage was the inside source who, soon after the initial Novak story, described the leaks as (roughly) "incredibly studid" and "done purely for revenge."

Posted by: Matt on March 14, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Fair assumption" can not stand up to the facts: WMD, levees, yellow cake, aluminum tubes, last throes...

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on March 14, 2006 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Wilder: cause it wouldn't have been illegal if Armitage didn't know that her identity was classified.

in fact, if you've kept up with the case you'll find that Fitzgerald has backed off on whether she was even classified for purposes of the IPA.

Posted by: Nathan on March 14, 2006 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

a bit off topic, but i wonder why we havent found anthing out in relation to the anthrax scare - i mean, if there was any one thing that contributed to the hysterical run-up to war, it was the fear planted with these events.

why isnt someone looking into this?

Posted by: christAlmighty on March 14, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Has Charlie linked this issue to abortion yet?

Posted by: craigie on March 14, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

christAlmighty:

the anthrax stuff was about a year and a half before the invasion of Iraq.

Posted by: Nathan on March 14, 2006 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

If God wants us to know what Bradlee really said, then we will know. To demand more is to undermine the Democrats, and consequently to starve the orphans. Kevin, you haven't kept up with the times here at Political Animal.

Posted by: Ben V-L on March 14, 2006 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK
the anthrax stuff was about a year and a half before the invasion of Iraq.

What a quaint characterization of a terror attack... stuff.

And just how long did the run-up to the invasion of Iraq last? We know that, at least for Rumsfeld, the run-up began on September 11, 2001.

Posted by: SavageView on March 14, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't Armitage part of the neocon group during Iran/Contra?

Posted by: gary on March 14, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

SavageView:

well, that has nothing to do with whether the anthrax attacks were serving to drum up public support for the Iraq war (hint: they wouldn't have been a year and a half before then).

Gary: I don't think you could classify the North/Poindexter/Casey cabal as neocons...Reagan was a neocon in his own way...Cheney most certainly is not (I don't read Armitage as being one either).

Posted by: Nathan on March 14, 2006 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan, perhaps you ought to stick to issues involving Terry Schiavo and leave the rest alone.

Posted by: SavageView on March 14, 2006 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Mary Brenner is hardly a credible source on this.

She's a close pal of Judith Iscariot Miller and -- if you believe Arianna Huffington -- penned a whitewash for Vanity Fair.

Posted by: SombreroFallout on March 14, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney most certainly is not

then he should've resisted the temptation to sign his name to the PNAC Statement Of Principles

Posted by: cleek on March 14, 2006 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

schiavo/reagan 08

Posted by: Neo on March 14, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

SavageView: I've never seen you before...but I doubt I ever commented on Schiavo...

cleek:
PNAC isn't really a neocon outfit. I'd suggest reading Commentary if you want to see what neocons write like.

Posted by: Nathan on March 14, 2006 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

PNAC isn't really a neocon outfit. I'd suggest reading Commentary if you want to see what neocons write like. Posted by: Nathan

Bullshit. It is neo-con central. Much of the nonsense that was hatched for Iraq and all the cheerleading thereafter can be found there. Just look at the "roster."

Posted by: Jeff II on March 14, 2006 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

PNAC isn't really a neocon outfit

i disagree. and so does...

Rich Lowry: "And with the war on terror, you saw neoconservatives emerging as a distinct tendency within conservatism, mostly on foreign policy; its hallmarks being extreme interventionism, extremely idealistic foreign policy, and emphasis on democracy building and spreading human rights and freedom and an overestimation, in my view, of how easy it is to spread democracy and liberty to spots in the world where it doesn't exist currently. "

and George Will: "In foreign policy, and here's where it gets interesting, they have a more ambitious, more confident approach to the use of power than regular conservatives -- if you see the symmetry here? They say that America is a nation uniquely equipped as the sole remaining superpower to order the world and spread our values, etc., etc.

Who are they? The ones most commonly mentioned are Charles Krauthammer, Paul Wolfowitz, maybe Dick Cheney and his aide, Scooter Libby, Doug Feith in the Pentagon, Bill Kristol. "

and Max Boot: "Many conservatives think, however, that "realism" presents far too crabbed a view of American power and responsibility. They suggest that we need to promote our values, for the simple reason that liberal democracies rarely fight one another, sponsor terrorism, or use weapons of mass destruction. If we are to avoid another 9/11, they argue, we need to liberalize the Middle East--a massive undertaking, to be sure, but better than the unspeakable alternative. And if this requires occupying Iraq for an extended period, so be it; we did it with Germany, Japan and Italy, and we can do it again.

The most prominent champions of this view inside the administration are Vice President Dick Cheney and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. Their agenda is known as "neoconservatism," though a more accurate term might be "hard Wilsonianism." Advocates of this view embrace Woodrow Wilson's championing of American ideals but reject his reliance on international organizations and treaties to accomplish our objectives. ("Soft Wilsonians," a k a liberals, place their reliance, in Charles Krauthammer's trenchant phrase, on paper, not power.) Like Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, "hard Wilsonians" want to use American might to promote American ideals."

all of that meshes perfectly with the PNAC statement i linked to above.

Posted by: cleek on March 14, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

While I certainly have no way of knowing what Richard Armitage did or did not do, it all seems curious -- in a timing sense -- the manner in which this supposed statement from Bradlee was conveyed. Through a Judy Miller-connected writer in Vanity Fair and through the Washington Times? Whenever I don't know what to believe in these who-said-what situations, it seems wise to ask: Who benefits? For example, would it be the State Dept. types or would it be --just say-- Rove and his associates?

Posted by: chris on March 14, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Nathan, Savage View is correct. Go read about 6 mos worth of firedoglake to get an accurate understanding of Plamegate and Fitz, then come back and try to fob off the same boat load of manure w/ a straight face.

Posted by: moe99 on March 14, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Wolfowitz and Kristol are, of course, well-known neoconservatives.

despite Will's "maybe" and Boot's certainty, I (and most neocons that I know) do not consider Cheney to be a neoconservative. unless he had some massive conversion after 9/11...he has hardly been an democracy-promotion idealist throughout his adult life.

Posted by: Nathan on March 14, 2006 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

all of that meshes perfectly with the PNAC statement i linked to above.Posted by: cleek

More important, cleek, just look at the signers of the Statement of "Principles."

Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, I. Lewis Libby, Norman Podhoretz, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Donald Rumsfeld, Vin Weber, George Weigel, Paul Wolfowitz.

My two favorites are the heavy weights Steve Forbes and Dan Quayle. Alan Keyes wanted to sign, but they wouldn't let him as they met their necessary quota of nutbags with Forbes.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 14, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK
PNAC isn't really a neocon outfit. I'd suggest reading Commentary if you want to see what neocons write like.

There is some truth to that, in the same sense that Russian Bolsheviks weren't really a Marxist outfit; PNAC is a bunch of activists and opportunists adapting and putting into concrete practice the theoretical principles articulated by the ivory-tower neoconservative theorists, just as Lenin et al. were the activists and opportunists adapting and putting into concrete practice the theoretical principles articulated by Marx.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 14, 2006 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

unless he had some massive conversion after 9/11...he has hardly been an democracy-promotion idealist throughout his adult life. Posted by: Nathan

No. Your right. While the neo-cons pretend to be something other than "reformed" knee-jerk democrats with an outsized concept of what the U.S. is capable of, Cheney couldn't give a shit about peace and democracy.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 14, 2006 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

Is Fitzgerald still alive?

Posted by: ckelly on March 14, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

BTW: This whole thing that Internet surfers could find out that Plame worked for the US Embassy, or even the CIA direct, so her cover wasn't really blown is mostly crap. Plame worked for CIA front company Brewster Jennings. She was supposed to pick up gossip about possible WMD-connected technology happenings from business folk crossing paths with her company. Most of them wouldn't bother to do all that research and detective deduction about her or even notice her name that much, and the info may not even have been as available at the time her cover was blown.

In any case, Scooter still lied about what he did, which was Fitzgerald's whole charge against him. I'm wondering who fronted up that new Plame diversion, and what's on the stove for next Fitzmas?

Posted by: Neil' on March 14, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

I don't get it. What would be the motivation for Powell loyalist Armitage to out Plame to Woodward? Armitage was not your typical Bush administration player. My understanding is that he, even more so than Powell, was frustrated by the power and influence of the Rumsfeld-Cheney cabal.

Posted by: Bragan on March 14, 2006 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

I don't get it. What would be the motivation for Powell loyalist Armitage to out Plame to Woodward?
Posted by: Bragan

I don't know. A better question is why didn't Powell fight Bush over Iraq? The Powell Doctrine of Engagement isn't named for him for nothing? Why didn't he resign in protest before being "made" to go and lie at the U.N.? Now that would have stopped the drive to invade Iraq in its tracks.

Posted by: Jeff II on March 14, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Neil:

Brewster Jennings was merely an address. She was its only employee and the company conducted no other business.

http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2003/10/10/apparent_cia_front_didnt_offer_much_cover/

nevertheless, the real point is that Fitzgerald in his response to Libby's attorneys the other week indicated that she may not have been classified for IPA purposes...

I'll take Fitzgerald's knowledge of the matter over firedoglake or some other blog, thank you very much.

Posted by: Nathan on March 14, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II:

Powell didn't "lie" at the U.N. the transcripts he used were real. it turns out that they concerned attempts to scrub sites of OLD WMD-related activity...

Posted by: Nathan on March 14, 2006 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK
Powell didn't "lie" at the U.N.

Well, he certainly presented interpretations of data that he knew, or reasonably should have known, were not even the most likely interpretation as not only the most likely interpretation but the only plausible interpretation.

You may call that something other than a "lie", but in any case it doesn't begin to approach honesty.

the transcripts he used were real.

Which, even if true, doesn't rebut the contention that he lied, since the transcripts were not the whole of his presentation to the UN. "X didn't lie at Y" means something considerably more than "There was at least one piece of information that X presented at Y that was not quite entirely bogus, despite the certain interpretation being put on it being completely wrong."

Posted by: cmdicely on March 14, 2006 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

I would like to coment on Kevin's post about Washington Post reporting on a Vanity Fair article quoting a former Washington Post editor commenting on a book written by a Washington Post reporter and then asking their former editor if he was quoted accurately.

But I forgot what I was going to say.

Posted by: A. Maze on March 14, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

For some reason, Armitage has been considered a moderate paleoconservative by many liberals. Yet he co-signed many letters written by PNAC, including the one to Clinton about making the removal of Saddam from power a high US priority. This letter urged Clinton to to undertake military action because American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

Armitage was as neo-con as they come. Here is the full set of co-signers of that 1998 letter to Clinton:

Elliott Abrams Richard L. Armitage William J. Bennett
Jeffrey Bergner John Bolton Paula Dobriansky
Francis Fukuyama Robert Kagan Zalmay Khalilzad
William Kristol Richard Perle Peter W. Rodman
Donald Rumsfeld William Schneider, Jr. Vin Weber
Paul Wolfowitz R. James Woolsey Robert B. Zoellick

Posted by: JS on March 14, 2006 at 8:49 PM | PERMALINK

Link to the PNAC letter to Clinton.

Posted by: JS on March 14, 2006 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK

So a Clinton apointee and an anti-Bush darling of the left was the original leak that the media spent months wailing over?

What a suprise, doubt the Major Media will bring this up. Issues need enough analysis to blame Bush, then you move on.

Why read news other than yahoo? Any analysis will always just come to the same pro-Left conclusion anyway.

Posted by: McA on March 14, 2006 at 9:59 PM | PERMALINK

Spin. Libby still obstructed justice and lied.
Rove still concocted the whole crazy scheme. And
a dimwit still has the reigns.

Sigh. Send us leaders.

Posted by: Sparko on March 14, 2006 at 11:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'd say that the Woodward/Armitage conversation, which sounds plausible, is unrelated to the organized and illegal outing of Plame by Cheney's crowd.

DC is a small place, particularly among the relatively small number of governmant and press people with decades of experience there, a Woodward/Armitage discussion would fit this environment.

Very differently, starting in March 2003 Cheney had a much larger group of WH staff people devoted to specifically attacking Wilson through the press.

Posted by: jerry on March 15, 2006 at 9:22 AM | PERMALINK

Doesn't sound plausible that Armitage outed Plame. Armitage protected the State INR analyst who Bolton tried to fire. So the WSJ is sympathetic to enemies of Armitage.

My money's on Bolton.

Posted by: Urinated State of America on March 15, 2006 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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