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October 18, 2005

Plame-Gate Daily Speculation Round Up

The Washington Post, today, came out with a piece reporting Patrick Fitzgerald is narrowing his investigation's focus on Vice President Cheney’s office:

As the investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's name hurtles to an apparent conclusion, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has zeroed in on the role of Vice President Cheney's office, according to lawyers familiar with the case and government officials. The prosecutor has assembled evidence that suggests Cheney's long-standing tensions with the CIA contributed to the unmasking of operative Valerie Plame.

In grand jury sessions, including with New York Times reporter Judith Miller, Fitzgerald has pressed witnesses on what Cheney may have known about the effort to push back against ex-diplomat and Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, including the leak of his wife's position at the CIA, Miller and others said. But Fitzgerald has focused more on the role of Cheney's top aides, including Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, lawyers involved in the case said.

The New York Daily News pushes the Cheney-centric possibility even further and claims a member of his staff has been cooperating with prosecutors as a 'snitch.' They write:

Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch.

"They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday

So, who is that ‘secret snitch?’


‘Raw Story’ says it’s John Hannah, a senior-national security aide on Cheney’s staff.

They rely on “Individuals familiar with Fitzgerald’s case,” and state:

[Hannah] was told in recent weeks that he could face imminent indictment for his role in leaking Plame-Wilson’s name to reporters unless he cooperated with the investigation.

I’m not so sure of ‘Raw Story’ as a source – I don’t know enough about them, and their vague sourcing gives pause, but they weave a pretty good tale on how Hannah would tie in with Judy Miller and also, curious visitor to Judy while in jail, John Bolton.

Tom Maguire, a serious guy who’s been absolutely crushing on this story, seems to think Hannah fits.

Tom reviews the ‘Raw Story’ report and recalls a February, 2004 UPI story relying on ‘law enforcement’ sources , saying Fitzgerald was closing in on Hanna (and Libby) even then.

Tom quotes:

Federal law-enforcement officials said that they have developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct by two employees of Vice President Dick Cheney's office related to the unlawful exposure of a CIA officer's identity last year. The investigation, which is continuing, could lead to indictments, a Justice Department official said.

According to these sources, John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were the two Cheney employees. "We believe that Hannah was the major player in this," one federal law-enforcement officer said.

Tom has more, and as always, is the internet go to guy on this.

What still isn't clear, even if Hannah is involved, is what the alleged conduct is that would constitute a violation of law, i.e. who talked with who illegally, or showed someone something they shouldn't have.

The Post, at the end of today's article, offers the following:

Senior administration officials said there was a document circulated at the State Department -- before Libby talked to Miller -- that mentioned Plame. It was drafted in June as an administrative letter and addressed to then-Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, who was acting secretary at the time since Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Deputy Secretary Richard L. Armitage were out of the country.

As a former State Department official involved in the process recalled it, Grossman wanted the letter as background for a meeting at the White House, where the discussion was focused on then growing criticism of Bush's inclusion in his January State of the Union speech of the allegation that Hussein had been seeking uranium from Niger.

The letter to Grossman discussed the reasons the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) did not believe the intelligence, which originated from foreign sources, was accurate. It had a paragraph near the beginning, marked "(S)," meaning it was classified secret, describing a meeting at the CIA in February 2002, attended by another INR analyst, where Plame introduced her husband as the person who was to go to Niger.

Attached to the letter were the notes from the INR analyst who had attended the session, but they were written well after the event occurred and contained mistakes about who was there and what was said, according to a former intelligence official who reviewed the document in the summer of 2003.

Grossman has refused to answer questions about the letter, and it is not clear whether he talked about it at the White House meeting he was said to have attended, according to the former State official.

Fitzgerald has questioned several witnesses from the CIA and State Department before the grand jury about the INR memo, according to lawyers familiar with the case.

So, apparantly, Fitzgerald is focuing on some misuse (conspired misuse?) of this classified letter or its contents by Cheney and his office. Who, when, where? Don't know. Hell, it's all speculation at this point anyway, but still, thought you should know.

It won't remain speculation forever, though. Fitzgerald is expected to annouce whether indictments will issue soon, perhaps this week.

Stay tuned.

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posted by Dr. Reo Symes at 07:49 PM

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