Friday, November 04, 2005

TREASONGATE: What's Mysteriously Missing From Fitzgerald's Website, Press Conference, Press Release and The Indictment

There's two mysteries I'm getting at here. The first concerns the Fitzgerald press conference, press release and the Libby indictment. The second concerns a mystery surrounding the Fitz web site.

MYSTERY #1: What's missing from Fitzgerald's press conference, press release and Libby's Indictment?

HINT #1: It's a word that appeared in
Fitzgerald's 75 page brief before the US Court Of Appeals.

Have another look at that 75 page brief. There's no date on it, but that's not the answer, just a clue. The first page tells us that the oral argument was scheduled for December 8, 2004. The final page contains an affirmation with the statement:

"This brief complies with the type-volume limitation of Fed.R.App.P. 32(a)(7)(B), as modified by this Court’s Order of October 19, 2004..."

The brief would probably have been due 30-45 days before oral argument. It was probably delivered to the court no later than Nov. 8th, although my best guess is that this brief was delivered to the Court in the third or fourth week of October 2004. And it was probably written in the first two weeks of October, 2004.

HINT #2: The word concerns an alleged motive for a crime.

On page 3 of the brief, the "Statement Of Facts" contains the following:

The Special Counsel’s investigation concerns alleged leaks of purportedly classified information by one or more government officials to reporters in apparent retaliation for a former government official’s exercise of his First Amendment right to publicly criticize the government.

Page 45 of Fitzgerald's brief then contains the following:

While Cooper and Time are being asked to identify a confidential source, given the nature of the relevant communications – namely, the alleged disclosure of sensitive government information for the purpose of political advantage or retaliation against a critic of the administration –

Page 48 of the brief states:

Moreover, appellants’ specific claim that requiring the disclosure of sources would impinge on reporters’ ability to uncover government misconduct rings hollow, given that the investigation in this case involves information that may have been released by a government official for political or retaliatory reasons, rather than the release of information in the nature of “whistleblowing.”

Page 48 also states:

Accordingly, public policy weighs heavily in favor of, rather than against, “chilling” such retaliatory disclosures by public officials.

Have you solved the mystery yet?

ANSWER: The missing word = RETALIATION

Based upon the 75 page brief filed by Fitzgerald with the Court of Appeals around October 2004, it appears Fitz -- at that moment in time -- had the motive for the crimes sorted out to his own satisfaction.

According to the brief, "...the alleged disclosure of sensitive government information for the purpose of political advantage or retaliation against a critic of the administration..."

Let's now cut to what I believe is the most important segment of Fitzgerald's
October 28, 2005 press conference:

QUESTION: The indictment describes Lewis Libby giving classified information concerning the identify of a CIA agent to some individuals who were not eligible to receive that information. Can you explain why that does not, in and of itself, constitute a crime?

FITZGERALD: That's a good question. And I think, knowing that he gave the information to someone who was outside the government, not entitled to receive it, and knowing that the information was classified, is not enough.

FITZGERALD: You need to know at the time that he transmitted the information, he appreciated that it was classified information, that he knew it or acted, in certain statutes, with recklessness.

There's a whole lot of information spilling out here and I haven't seen it analyzed properly yet, so let me take my shot at deconstructing Fitzgerald's context.

I'm going to focus on
18 USC 793(d) of the Espionage Act:

(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing...or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates...the same to any person not entitled to receive it...Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both. (All emphasis added by CS.)

There's three elements of this statute Fitz needs to prove as to Libby:

1 - Information relating to the national defense was in Libby's possession

2 - Libby Willfully communicated it to someone not entitled to receive it

3 - Libby had reason to believe the information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any
foreign nation

I must say -- after thinking about this hard for almost a week -- I couldn't understand why Fitz didn't indict Libby for violating 18 USC 793(d). In response to the first question quoted above, Fitz acknowledged that the first two elements had been established. Libby did communicate classified information to someone not entitled to receive it. But it also "appears" -- and I stress the word "appears" for clarity -- that Fitz doesn't think he's got element three locked down.

My initial gut reaction to this was:

"I disagree with Fitz. I totally disagree. All of the elements of 18 USC 793(d) have been established."

But this Fitzgerald, he's a cagy fellow. After looking this over and over, I'm certain Fitz has Libby on 18 USC 793(d), and I'm certain Fitz knows he's got Libby locked down on it.

You can quote me on that.

QUESTION: Hold on there CS, didn't Fitz say "it's not enough"?

This is true. Fitz did say that, and he meant it. But he wasn't answering a direct question about 18 USC 793(d). He was answering a blanket question concerning why he didn't charge Libby with any other crimes.

QUESTION: If he's got Libby locked down for violating 793(d), why not charge him?

Now that is the million dollar question for today. Before I answer that question let me first explain why Fitz has Libby locked down for violating 793(d) of the Espionage Act.

Fitz stated that the info was classified. He didn't state that Libby knew it was classified. Yet, 793(d) does not require -- as an element of the statute -- that the information be "classified". 793(d) only requires that the information be "related to the national defense". Fitzgerald made it clear -- in the press conference, press release, and the indictment -- that Plame's cover -- the cover of a CIA officer -- was certainly related to the national defense.

From the October 28
press conference:

FITZGERALD: The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well- known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security.

From the October 28
press release:

Disclosure of classified information about an individual’s employment by the CIA has the potential to damage the national security in ways that range from preventing that individual’s future use in a covert capacity, to compromising intelligence-gathering methods and operations, and endangering the safety of CIA employees and those who deal with them, the indictment states.

the Libby indictment...

Disclosure of the fact that such individuals were employed by the CIA had the potential to damage the national security in ways that ranged from preventing the future use of those individuals in a covert capacity, to compromising intelligence-gathering methods and operations, and endangering the safety of CIA employees and those who dealt with them.

In three separate instances, Fitzgerald tells us that Plame's identity as a CIA officer was related to the national defense. 793(d) doesn't give a rats ass about whether this particular information was classified, and 793(d) certainly doesn't care whether Libby knew it was classified. Just read the statute:

d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of...information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates...the same to any person not entitled to receive it...Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

- Libby had possession of information relating to the national defense

- Libby communicated that information to a reporter not entitled to receive it

- Libby had reason to believe the information could be used to the injury of the United States

18 USC 794(a) of the Espionage Act uses a much higher hurdle in that the leaker must have reason to believe that the national defense information he is releasing "is to be used" to harm the United States. And for that kind of behavior, the maximum sentence is life in prison or death.

But this lesser standard -- that the national defense information "could be used" against the US -- only carries a ten year maximum sentence. That's because the statute requires a much less stringent criminal intent. If a CIA officer's identity is related to the national defense, then the exposure of her identity -- beyond a reasonable doubt -- "could" be used to harm the US or, in the alternative, "could" be used to the advantage of a foreign nation. If that were not true, then there would be no reason to ever provide cover for CIA officers. This word -- COULD -- may just be the subject of another "depends what the meaning of 'is' is"...defense.

We shall see.

The statute doesn't require Fitz to prove that the info was classified -- or that if it was classified -- Libby knew it to be classified. The statute doesn't require that.

The statute only requires that Libby had "reason to believe" the information "could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation." If we are to believe Fitzgerald -- that the exposure of a CIA officer's identity "had the potential to damage the United States" -- how then is this final element of the statute not covered by Libby's disclosure.

For a jury to find Libby "not guilty" of violating 18 USC 793(d), that jury must find that Libby had no reason to believe that exposing the name of a CIA officer to members of the press "could" be used to injure the US or to give advantage to any foreign nation.

LIBBY is toast under 18 USC 793(d). Fitz has him locked down with no escape hatch other than a pardon.

And if Libby is rightfully impeached in the House and convicted in the Senate, it's possible the pardon may be voided. For more on this new Constitutional discovery, please see my
pardon report.

So, isn't Fitz speaking out of both sides of his mouth when he tells us three times -- press conference, press release, indictment -- that the information "had the potential to damage the national security" while at the same time he tells us that he doesn't have "enough"?

That really depends on what Fitzgerald was actually telling us.

Was he telling us that he didn't have enough to charge Libby with other crimes, i.e. 793(d)?

Or was Fitz telling us that he didn't have "enough" to determine which of these other crimes he should charge?

Let's pick up where the prior Fitz press conference quote ends:

And that is sort of what gets back to my point. In trying to figure that out, you need to know what the truth is.

So our allegation is in trying to drill down and find out exactly what we got here, if we received false information, that process is frustrated...

FITZGERALD: I think -- but I will say this: The whole point here is that we're going to make fine distinctions and make sure that before we charge someone with a knowing, intentional crime, we want to focus on why they did it, what they knew and what they appreciated; we need to know the truth about what they said and what they knew

QUESTION: Does that mean you don't feel that you know the truth about whether he intentionally did this and he knew and appreciated it? Or does that mean you are exercising your prosecutorial discretion and being conservative?

FITZGERALD: Well, I don't want to -- look, a person is charged with a crime, they are presumed innocent, and I haven't charged him with any other crime.

And all I'm saying is the harm and the obstruction crime is it shields us from knowing the full truth.

I won't go beyond that.

Fitz is choosing his words carefully, "drill down", "fine distinctions", "intentional crime".

None of this bodes well for Mr. Libby or anybody else involved with the conspiracy.

Fitz appears to be examining 18 USC 794 of the Espionage Act. This is much more serious than 793. I don't think Fitz will use 794(b) because of the technical issues involved with proving the "time of war" element of the statute. 794(b) is basically the same as 793(d) in that both only require the perp to leak info which could be used to harm the US. But when the country is in "time of war", the punishment goes up from a ten year maximum sentence -- in 793(d) -- to life in prison or the death sentence in 794(b).

The defense to 794(b) is to dispute we were in "time of war". The defendants will argue that the "time of war" element for this statute is defined by the intent of the framers of the statute, and back in 1917 you still needed a Constitutional declaration of war by Congress for the statute to take effect. I don't know if the defense would fly with a jury, but it's very possible the prosecution could get hung up on this technical issue and it would almost certainly go to an appeal.

Looks like Fitz might avoid using 794(b), but 794(a) is certainly in play.


a) Whoever, with intent or reason to believe that it is to be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation, communicates...information relating to the national defense, shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for any term of years or for life...

While Fitz has Libby "drilled down" under 793(d), he's still not sure of Libby's state of mind, his intentions. And "intent" determines whether Fitz can use 794(a).

"...we want to focus on why they did it, what they knew and what they appreciated; we need to know the truth about what they said and what they knew..."

Fitzgerald is a very serious individual. This is not your garden variety prosecutor. Like the man said, this isn't over. If we were using a baseball analogy, I'd say the national anthem is just about to be played. We're not even in the first inning yet. The dust Libby and others threw at this umpire has finally settled and Fitz is starting to see clearly.

Everybody involved with this conspiracy is in deep shit. This thing is going to be exposed from the top to the bottom. I've noticed a few developments which bolster that conclusion. And this leads me back to the mysteries hinted at by my headline.

Fitzgerald isn't buying the "Joe Wilson was bitchslapped" theory of motive anymore.


The brief contains the "retaliation" concept, but that brief is the very last time Fitzgerald uses the words -- "retaliation" or "retaliatory" -- in this investigation. The press conference, press release and indictment all steer very clear of alleging motive -- something Fitz was quite comfortable doing -- in the 75 page brief to the Court of Appeals.

The time line here is rather interesting because we don't know the exact date the brief was written and thereafter submitted to the court. The reason this is important leads us to mystery number 2.

MYSTERY #2: What's missing from the Special Prosecutor's website?

On October 28, Justin Raimondo published
an interesting article for which contains the following quote form District Court Judge Hogan:

The ex parte affidavit establishes that the government's focus has shifted as it has acquired additional information during the course of the investigation. Special Counsel now needs to pursue different avenues in order to complete its investigation. … The subpoenas were not issued in an attempt to harass the [reporters], but rather stem from legitimate needs due to an unanticipated shift in the grand jury's investigation.

I had never seen that quote before, and I was really angry that I missed it. So I went to the Special Prosecutor's website and had another look at Judge Hogan's decisions. But I couldn't find that quote there. So I went back to Raimondo's column and followed the links attached to that quote. None of the links led to an actual court document. The two links supplied by Raimondo led to other blogs. But those blogs didn't lead to an actual court decision.

I Googled the quote and found the following
link to an official .gov document...

...but the damn link wouldn't work, and there was no "cache" option for this particular Google entry. I then trolled around the web desperately groping for this District Court opinion. No luck.

I returned to the broken link once more. It was a .pdf file. I then noticed there was a "convert to html" button, gave that a shot and voila!, up came Judge Hogan's official opinion. This happened on October 29. And today, the original link is working again. But I'm fairly certain the link wasn't working when Raimondo published his October 28 column. Surely, he must have searched for the official document as I had done, concluded it was not available, and published his report using only the blog references to it. And I imagine -- not knowing Raimondo personally -- that he wasn't happy about not having the real thing.

Now, almost a week after Raimondo published that report, the official .gov document is online again.

But it's still not been uploaded to the Special Counsel's website. What gives? Let's see what that opinion says:

On September 13, 2004, Special Counsel issued a second set of subpoenas upon Mr. Cooper and Time....

Cooper and Time argue that because the second set of subpoenas seek the same information requested in the original subpoenas, enforcing these new subpoenas would be unreasonable and/or oppressive. Specifically, Movants take issue with the fact that Special Counsel voluntarily limited the previous subpoenas to information concerning one identified government official, yet he now looks to gather information that he previously agreed not to seek. Such an action, Cooper and Time argue, is unreasonable and oppressive. This Court disagrees.

In his ex parte affidavit, Special Counsel outlines in great detail the developments in this case and the investigation as a whole. The ex parte affidavit establishes that the government’s focus has shifted as it has acquired additional information during the course of the investigation. Special Counsel now needs to pursue different avenues in order to complete its investigation. Through the ex parte affidavit, the Court has determined that the subpoenas were not issued in an attempt to harass the movants, but rather stem from legitimate needs due to an unanticipated shift in the grand jury’s investigation.

"... the government's focus has shifted"
" unanticipated shift in the grand jury's investigation..."

Where have those quotes been hiding?

Two questions:

1. Why isn't this official decision of the District Court included at the Special Counsel's website?

My best guess is that Fitz may not have wanted certain people to focus on the inflammatory information contained in that statement. Out of sight out of mind, right? But once Raimondo's column zeroed in on this decision, it must have become obvious that people would be hunting for the official court document. And now it's back online. I don't really know what this means, if anything, but the document sure led this blogger on an interesting journey. The second question, and by far the more relevant one is:

2. Where has this "unanticipated shift" taken Fitzgerald?

When you examine the shift in Fitzgerald's publications and official utterances on the topic of motivation, it becomes reasonable to believe that Fitzgerald is not buying the argument/spin that this outing of a CIA officer was done with purely political or retaliatory motivations. Something -- or someone -- changed Fitzgerald's mind around October 2004.

I think this is a mind-blowing development because the 75 page brief to the Court of Appeals makes no less than four references to the "political or retaliatory" motive, but that brief is the very last time Fitz published such language. Now reexamine the words Fitz chose in the press conference -- words that clearly indicate he's not been able to determine "why they did it" -- and you come away with an "ah ha" moment.

Fitz is just walking out to the mound, people. The first inning hasn't even started.

Nothing, and I mean nothing at all, can be found in the press conference, press release or indictment which even remotely suggests that Plame and Wilson are innocent victims in this affair. Fitz certainly doesn't suggest that they were co-conspirators either. But his published language has changed drastically as far as it pertains to the motive for these crimes.

When Fitz submitted his brief to the Court of Appeals around the time of late October 2004, he was apparently comfortable repeating the common perception that the motive was "political gain" or "retaliation" of a critic. But that was before he was able to get some of the dirt out of his eyes. Seeing things more clearly now, he realizes -- and in fact has unequivocally stated -- that he does not know the motive -- "why they did it" was the exact words he used.

Please notice that Judge Hogan's "unanticipated shift" memorandum is a direct result of Cooper's objection to Fitzgerald's second set of subpoenas. Fitz had finally got some of the shit out of his eyes when Cooper was forced to answer the initial questions and this clarity led him in another direction.

Judge Hogan's decision comes down on November 10, 2004. By this time Fitz would have submitted the 75 page brief containing the original "political or retaliation" motives probably a week or two prior to Hogan's Nov. 10 decision.

Mark October 2004 on your calendar as the time Fitz started to see the possibility of a much larger and more intricate conspiracy involving more sinister and pre-meditated intentions. I think that's a fair assessment when you carefully examine everything that Fitz has said since submitting that 75 page brief. In case you've been sleeping, he's not mentioning the word "retaliation" any longer.

But the gatekeepers of the left continue to focus on the "small picture" insisting that these dangerous crimes were committed as retaliation against a whistleblower/hero. Y'all better get educated soon. Fitzgerald has signaled that he's not satisfied this investigation has uncovered the genuine motive. And he's also signaled through his press conference that he will not rest until he can look us in the eye and tell us he did everything he could to solve the riddle of this crime.

Fitzgerald is "drilling it down".

Rats are cornered. You know what rats do when they're cornered. He's got them cornered. I feel it. I believe it. I am impressed. Those involved with this conspiracy are going to figure it out soon. They are the Moriarty to Fitz as Sherlock Holmes. But Moriarty was no idiot. I don't think they will sit back and wait for the thing to play out relying on the pardon. That's a risky strategy.

Given time, Fitzgerald will convict every one of them eventually. His eyes are wide open and he's the better man. And they know it. That's the scary part. They know he's going to beat them.

Pray for the prosecutor.

by CS


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

TREASONGATE: Let's All Take A Deep Breath And Reexamine The Facts

Yesterday I published an explosive article (see below) about David Corn misquoting Fitzgerald. The reader comments here as CS, Democratic Underground, Rigorous Intuition and various other forums were polarized to the extreme. I respect that, and I respect that people are angry at me for attacking Wilson and Corn's credibility. Others who are receptive to my point of view praised and defended my reporting.

I do not want CS to be a blog that divides people. That is why the comments are totally uncensored and open. Even the comments which are filled with profanity, vitriol and spin are welcome. Thank you all for posting here and elsewhere. The comments are the best part of the blogosphere.

I'm not a professional reporter. Until publishing this blog I had no experience as a journalist or political commentator. I don't want to be a paid reporter. I am a reader of blogs and a news junkie who has experience as a lawyer and an investigator. That's as far as I want to go. I don't want to be known. I don't want to be a talking head. I just want to get to the truth.

As for my credibility, like Fitzgerald, blogs on the left are calling me a faux partisan hack because I credited Clifford May and The National Review for publishing the theory that David Corn outed Plame's status as a NOC and also because I have labeled Wilson and Corn as co-conspirators with the White House. While right-wing blogs have attacked me for being a left wing hack because I have called for the neocons to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for actions (Plame and Brewster outings) they consider not to be criminal, but simply political.

I will grant both sides their frustration and have empathy for the confusion that has beset America. I am not insulted by any of the tags that have been put on me because I understand the pain this country is going through via the intended polarization of the American people. So let me try to unify the troops by taking a deep breathe and answering all of the questions which have arisen over the last 24 hours.

I will do this by interviewing myself using questions that have come up from readers. And I will publish this now with the understanding that the interview will continue in the comments section of this blog as readers digest this article and compose further questions for my review. I will answer every question the readers have. I simply ask that you have patience for the answers to your questions. Trying to stay on top of all the leads coming my way is very time consuming. There are people trying to do patriotic things while others are trying to thwart them. Both end up in my mailbox and it's not easy separating the real from the unreal.

It's not easy for any of you either. I've made mistakes and I've tried to be honest about those mistakes, tried to make up for them and this is what the current article you are reading is all about.

QUESTION: Why should anybody trust CS?

ANSWER: You shouldn't. You shouldn't trust me. You don't know me. You don't know if I have an agenda. You don't know anything about my motives other than what I've written and what I've written hasn't been 100% correct. So you shouldn't trust me. You shouldn't give me a pass when I screw up. You should hold me over the fire and fry me until you see me respond to your questions.

At the same time, you should also give credit when somebody proves a fact to you. I was attacked by the moderators at Democratic Underground for citing the Espionage Act as the most valid law pertaining to the Plame affair. DU locked that thread and told its readership that they would open it when I backed up my theory with proper sources. I told DU my source was the law and quoted the law and analyzed the law, but DU kept the thread locked.

As it turns out, Fitzgerald focused on the Espionage Act in his press conference and Libby's indictment. DU has never reopened the thread or apologized for casting aspersions on my reporting. My reporting on the Espionage Act was not the first in the blogosphere, but it was by far the most detailed and legally sound explanation of the law the blogosphere has seen on this topic.

I took issue with those in the media who had erroneously directed the people's attention to the IIPA as the exclusive law controlling the Plame outing.

David Corn was the first person in the media to raise the issue of the IIPA and Joe Wilson followed him as the foremost cheerleader of that law. You can defend them all you like, but shouldn't they be held up to scrutiny for getting it wrong?

Corn is supposed to be this ace reporter, but for two years he never mentioned the law which has now come to forefront of this investigation, the Espionage Act. For two years Wilson and Corn discussed the IIPA exclusively and in doing so the stage was set for many talking heads to debate the intricacies of the IIPA while the true master of this fact pattern -- the Espionage Act -- was ignored.

If you want to give them both a pass, that's your prerogative. But what about the non-disclosure agreement violations? Those also mention 18 USC 793 and 794 as well as the IIPA and other laws. Written reports by Wilson and transcripts of interviews with do not mention even the possibility that the Espionage Act was in play. The same goes for Corn.

Wilson stated in his book -- "The Politics of Truth" -- that on July 16, 2003, David Corn published an analysis of the IIPA so that Americans would have some knowledge concerning "all of the legalities" involved. That was wrong. Fitzgerald has spoken and he's locked onto the Espionage Act. Wilson and Corn got it wrong. That's a fact.

What does that fact mean? The answer to the question -- at this point in time -- is conjecture. But it's a question neither has answered in public.

So you shouldn't trust them anymore than you should trust me. Trust nobody. Start out with the assumption that whatever you read is conjecture (or worse -- spin) and go from there with your analysis of the subject matter.

Trust the facts not the spin.

For example, before Fitzgerald issued the indictment and gave the press conference, it was not a fact that the Espionage Act would be used, but since Fitz struck, it is now a fact that the Espionage Act is totally in play. That is now a fact and you can trust it.
And if you want to be schooled, you really need to read
18 USC 793 and 794 with all the sub-parts. You will find that there are sections of those statutes which make it illegal for reporters to publish certain information. Have a look at 793(e) and 794(c) for guidance on whether reporters can be prosecuted under these laws. Novak, Corn and Pincus have issues with these laws.

I was analyzing the Espionage Act when most blogs were exclusively debating the IIPA. You should consider that and cut me some slack. But don't believe anything just because I report it. You have the ability to fact check things for yourself. Don't be lazy. Do the work. Corn and Wilson got the law wrong. CS did not.

CS was also the first blog to thoroughly explain the delegation letters by Comey to Fitz as well as the GAO report which found that Fitz had all of the power of an Independent Counsel even though he is not an Independent Counsel. This happened when it looked like Comey's replacement might be looking at ways to fire Fitz. That GAO report is very interesting. So cut me some slack on that one as well. And if you want to read a true history of your power as federal grand jurors, I suggest you read my
report on the history of that power. I'm not exactly shooting blanks over here.

QUESTION: What's The Biggest Mistake You've Made CS?

ANSWER: The biggest mistake I've made is drawing conclusions about Corn and Wilson without properly backing up those conclusions with supporting evidence strong enough to convict them of my accusations. I am guilty as charged. The last 24 hours have made me realize that my original
headline and attack on Corn and Wilson, while supported by the facts to some degree, have been more driven by instinct and gut feelings.

That is no way for a journalist to behave.

The first post in this blog was July 28, 2005, my first piece of journalism ever. The attention I've received since then has blown my mind. My very first report was listed as a source at
Wikipedia. Instead of taking a deep breath and trying to follow my gut to information which would thoroughly confirm that my suspicions about Corn and Wilson were true, I jumped online and published my accusations as if I "knew" those accusations were correct.

I "knew" no such thing. I believe I'm right about these two, but I can honestly say I don't have the evidence to "convict" them in the court of public opinion. And this is why the country is lucky to have someone like Fitz at the helm. He probably has a lot of gut feelings going on about a lot of people involved in this investigation, but he's proven to everyone that he will only prosecute what he believes he can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are many facts that support my gut feelings. And we will discuss those facts. All I ask is that you recognize a fact when you see it. Be realistic, especially at a time when so many unrealistic things are happening. If I prove a fact to you, and that fact is damning to somebody you respect, you need then to start asking questions. Theories can be spun as conjecture and partisan lies, but facts are much harder to spin.

When a fact has been proven to you, and that fact is damaging to somebody you have believed in, you must be careful not to give an automatic pass to those responsible.

Trust not so easily. Ask questions. Demand answers. In this way we can end the partisan division and get to the truth.

We often allow our sense of doubt to be corrupted by those we "want" to be right. We've been duped so many times. When the facts don't add up, get out your calculator and start crunching numbers.

I retract my accusations that Corn and Wilson are in cahoots with the White House. I cannot prove that. I believe it to be true. There are facts which support it, but I don't have enough evidence to convict them. I apologize. This was a clear rookie mistake. My last column on Corn phrased the issue as a question just for this reason. But my original accusation was presented as a true conclusion and that was an amateur blunder.

QUESTION: Why did you rely on an obvious right wing propaganda rag like The National Review when you cited Clifford May as a source for your attack on Corn?

report from yesterday includes the following disclaimer:

"Readers -- I am no fan of The National Review and their war propaganda, but a fact is a fact. May raised very legitimate questions which must be answered."

I didn't come up with the theory that Corn helped out Plame's status as a NOC. I don't believe in plagiarism. If you point out something to me which makes me look at things in a new light, then I'm going to credit you and it doesn't matter who you are. Clifford May speculated that Corn outed Plame's status. Forget about the messenger and just look at the message. Analyze it in light of facts and draw your own conclusions.

Novak said Plame was an "operative".

Corn said she was a "NOC".

From what I understand, an operative is a spy. I will grant the Corn defenders that. It even says so in the dictionary. But as far as I can tell, there are two kinds of spies. Those with "official cover" and those with "non-official cover" (NOCS). Novak's column labeled Plame as an operative, but Corn said she was a NOC.

I can accept that...operative = spy.

I cannot accept that...operative = NOC.

Corn stated she was a NOC. If he made a mistake, let him admit that he made a mistake and in his admission -- through the words that he uses -- we can analyze the veracity of his assertions and compare those assertions to other statements and conduct.

It's the totality of the circumstances you need to stay locked on, not just isolated incidents.

Corn doesn't list any other sources for his article but Novak. I don't understand how Corn comes to this conclusion without the Brewster Jennings info or something else. Did it never occur to Corn that Plame might have had official cover? Why give Corn a pass? Just because Clifford May brought it to your attention? Is that why you give Corn a pass? Perhaps Corn, Novak and May are trying to mess with your mind? I don't know. I can't prove that. But it's so obvious to me that the easiest way to keep America divided is on party lines.

So let's take a deep breath and digest this fact. Two days after Novak published, Corn -- citing no other source but Novak -- states that Plame was a NOC. He also listed other details that are suspicious, but let's ignore those and stick to the real heart of the matter.

Perhaps it could have been established that Plame worked for Brewster Jennings and that her employment with a private firm proved that she was a NOC since she would need a government job to have "official cover".

But Corn's July 16, 2003 report doesn't allege anything like that. Corn doesn't tell his readers that he researched Plame's job history, found out she worked for a private firm, and concluded on that basis that she must be a NOC. His report doesn't say that. His report claims to be based on Novak's report exclusively. But Novak doesn't say Plame was a NOC. Corn's report, two days later, does say she was a NOC.


She could be a covert operative and not be a NOC...IF she had official cover.

How did Corn know she never had official cover on July 16, 2003?

These are facts. It sucks that Clifford May and The National Review were first to expose these facts.

IT SUCKS! And the way Clifford May reported it really sucks. He didn't zero in on the main issue, the NOC statement. That's the beef. It's fair for somebody like Corn to extrapolate that operative = spy, but it's not fair to assume operative = NOC. You need something more than what Novak wrote.

Why didn't somebody else get there first? I don't know. But if I report on these facts and I don't mention the journalist who first brought these facts to our attention, what does that do to my credibility? It makes me guilty of plagiarism if I don't credit May's report. It's a catch 22.

Is it intended as a catch 22? I don't know, but it sure plays that way.

QUESTION: CS, what other facts lead you to believe that David Corn is not being honest with America?

ANSWER: Let's start with the most recent incident.

David Corn twisted Fitzgerald's words to make it appear that Fitz said something which Fitz did not say. This is a BIG fact. No amount of spin can change the fact. An ethical reporter does not make patchwork quotations as Corn has clearly done. Patrick Fitzgerald chooses his words very carefully. His office is leak proof and his press conference was his only chance to speak directly to the American people.

Doesn't Corn owe Fitzgerald the respect to quote him directly instead of "creating" quotes out of thin air?

Some of you may be saying, "Hey CS aren't you making accusation which you can't prove again?" The answer is no. I can prove that Corn misquoted Fitzgerald and I am the original source on this particular fact.

On the evening of October 28, 2005, David Corn published a
review of Fitzgerald's press conference for The Nation which was also published at Yahoo news. Pay attention to the following passage written by Corn:

Fitzgerald...did declare that "the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified...but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community" and that "her cover was blown" by the Novak column. (So much for the goofy right-wing conspiracy theory that I colluded with Joseph Wilson after the Novak column to out Valerie Wilson as an undercover CIA operative. If you don't know about that, don't ask.)

Now have a look at
what Fitz actually said:

"Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003."

Once again, Corn published:

"her cover was blown" by the Novak column.

Corn commits an unforgivable heavy handed forgery of what Fitz actually said. Corn's report makes it appear that Fitz said "her cover was blown by the Novak column". Please notice he puts quotes around the first part, but not the second. He creates the impression in the reader's mind that Fitz made that specific statement.

Fitz never said "her cover was blown by the Novak column" which is what Corn implies by his "selective" quotation marks.

Fitz said, "The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003."

Later in the press conference, Fitzgerald says,

"That brings us to the fall of 2003. When it was clear that Valerie Wilson's cover had been blown, investigation began."

So, according to Fitz:

- the first sign of Novak's cover being blown was Novak's column.
- her cover was blown in July
- it became clear that her cover was blown in Fall 2003

We can all try to put this in context, but none of us has the right to say we know exactly what Fitz meant. My take on this is the following:

- In the Fall of 2003, it became clear to Government officials that Plame's cover was blown so
they initiated an investigation.
- Plame's cover was blown in July 2003.
- The first sign of that cover being blown was Novak's column.

My take is conjecture. Corn's take is conjecture. Your take is conjecture.

But Corn represented an intentional misquote as being a fact. That's two layers of deception

- the fake quote
- not explaining that his report was conjecture

Since July 2005 Corn has been facing accusations that his July 16, 2003 column was responsible for outing Plame's NOC status. So Fitzgerald's statement that Novak's column was just "the first sign" of her cover being blown certainly does not help Corn's case at all.

Had Fitzgerald actually said, "Wilson's cover was blown on July 14, 2003 in Novak's column", then Corn would have every right to feel vindicated. But Fitz didn't say that. A fair non-biased journalist wouldn't report that Fitz made a statement favoring that reporter's cause when, in fact, a reasonable interpretation of Fitzgerald's comments could be construed to mean that Corn is still over the fire.

That may not be what Fitz meant, but it's certainly a reasonable interpretation.

Corn didn't portray his reporting on the Fitz statement as conjecture. Corn reported it as fact. This is -- at best - shoddy journalism. At worst, it's a flat out lie intended to mislead the country about his role in the Plame outing.

All we can do is guess what Fitz meant. And Corn is allowed to guess just like the rest of us. But Corn's report from October 28, 2005 -- widely disseminated through The Nation and Yahoo News -- does not make a guess at what Fitz meant. Corn makes a statement of fact that Fitzgerald has concluded Plame's cover was blown by Novak's column. It's bad enough that Corn doesn't put his conclusions in the form of conjecture, but Corn goes one step further by rearranging Fitzgerald's words -- twisting those words into a statement Fitz never made.

For those of you who support Corn, don't you think he owes his readers an explanation?

And I would expect that somebody with more clout than CS might get Randal Samborn to issue a statement regarding this misquotation of Fitzgerald's very carefully chosen words.

Furthermore, Corn is not exactly an unbiased party reporting objectively on the news. He's involved and he's used The Nation and Yahoo News to protect himself from scrutiny by defending accusations about him with the use of false quotes followed by an attack on his critics:

"...So much for the goofy right-wing conspiracy theory that I colluded with Joseph Wilson after the Novak column to out Valerie Wilson as an undercover CIA operative. If you don't know about that, don't ask..."

That's quite a clever trick. Corn twists the prosecutor's words - words that may imply others were involved in Plame's outing after Novak's column was published -- so that it appears the prosecutor has cleared Corn of any responsibility and then he uses the fake quote to mock those who have legitimate questions about his veracity.

This is not journalism. This is wrong. And Corn's behavior in this regard has now brought him more attention and scrutiny, not less. People know when they've been lied to. Corn lied about Fitzgerald's press conference.

That's a fact.

A journalist with as much power as Corn should know better. The word "audacity" comes to mind.

Would those who support Corn really allow right wing hacks like Novak and May to get away with such a blatant quote forgery as Corn is guilty of?

Corn's playing fast and loose with Fitzgerald's words doesn't prove that he is involved in the conspiracy to out Plame and Brewster Jennings, but his behavior certainly raises red flags which need to be examined in light of other statements and reports by Corn. We need to examine what he has written as well as what he has not written.

What did Joe Wilson do to make CS believe he's not been up front with the American people?

ANSWER: Joe Wilson had the media connections to publish "What I didn't Find In Africa" before our troops were put in harm's way. He had many months to counter the Bush administration's arguments -- to Congress, the military and the people -- in support of going to war in Iraq. After the war was well under way, Joe Wilson raised public awareness about the fake war Intel. And that awareness has led to an awakening that the country was duped into supporting the war by bogus Intel.

Joe Wilson tendered his conclusions to the CIA about the Niger fraud right after he came back from Africa.

When the President gave his famous State of the Union speech containing the 16 words, Joe Wilson could have written "What I Didn't Find In Africa" to counter the President's bogus message. Had Joe Wilson responded to the President before the war, 2000+ soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians might still be alive today.

Perhaps Joe Wilson has a reasonable explanation for not taking action before the war. If so, he's failed to tell the country why up until now. I would that think Joe Wilson -- if he's truly a patriot -- would expect the American people to ask that question of him.

QUESTION: What else did Joe Wilson do to make CS believe he's not been up front with the American people?

ANSWER: In two years of interviews, reports and lectures, Joe Wilson -- like Corn -- has been miserably deficient when it comes to discussing the applicable laws that were violated in the outing of his wife's covert status. But the most upsetting actions undertaken by Wilson are his statements given to reporters on background prior to his July 6, 2003 New York Times Op Ed.
The Daily HowlerDuring his trip, the CIA's envoy spoke with the president of Niger and other Niger officials mentioned as being involved in the Iraqi effort, some of whose signatures purportedly appeared on the documents.
published a very decisive and accurate time line detailing Wilson's statements to the press which raises serious questions about Wilson's veracity. From The Daily Howler:

Wilson wrote his famous op-ed in early July 2003. But in May and June of that year, he “backgrounded” some high-profile pieces about his trip—pieces which flatly misstated the facts, but presented a clear-and-pleasing contradiction. For example, here’s part of Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed piece from May 6 of that year. Wilson later told Vanity Fair that he was the source for the column:

KRISTOF (5/6/03): Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons...

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 C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

The envoy reported, for example, that a Niger minister whose signature was on one of the documents had in fact been out of office for more than a decade. In addition, the Niger mining program was structured so that the uranium diversion had been impossible. The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted—except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.

This account is highly dramatic—but it’s utterly bogus. In fact, Wilson never saw those famous forged documents; in fact, no one in the U.S. government had seen the docs at the time of his trip. No one knew whose signatures were on the documents—and Wilson didn’t make the report which Kristof described. Wilson didn’t “debunk the forgery,” as he made clear in his own later column. But Kristof’s column, though factually fake, told a highly dramatic tale, in which a fearless envoy debunked a forgery—and Bush just kept on citing it anyway. This created the illusion of a sharp contradiction—a clear-cut, perfect drama. And so did Walter Pincus’ piece in the Washington Post, another (bogus) report for which Wilson was the source:

PINCUS (6/12/03): [T]he CIA in early February 2002 dispatched a retired U.S. ambassador to the country to investigate the claims, according to the senior U.S. officials and the former government official, who is familiar with the event. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity and on condition that the name of the former ambassador not be disclosed.

After returning to the United States, the envoy reported to the CIA that the uranium-purchase story was false, the sources said. Among the envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong," the former U.S. government official said.

Again, reporters heard a dramatic story, in which the ambassador performed a clear-cut debunking of some forged documents—documents Wilson never saw. When he was interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wilson acknowledged that he was the source for this Pincus report—and he offered laughable reasons for his apparent misstatements (text below). Meanwhile, Kristof published a follow-up column. His original column had been blatantly wrong, as Wilson of course had seen when he read it. But to all appearances, the honest ambassador never clued Kristof. The new column was dramatic, but wrong once again:

KRISTOF (6/13/03): The agency chose a former ambassador to Africa to undertake the mission, and that person flew to Niamey, Niger, in the last week of February 2002. This envoy spent one week in Niger, staying at the Sofitel and discussing his findings with the U.S. ambassador to Niger, and then flew back to Washington via Paris.

Immediately upon his return, in early March 2002, this senior envoy briefed the C.I.A. and State Department and reported that the documents were bogus, for two main reasons. First, the documents seemed phony on their face—for example, the Niger minister of energy and mines who had signed them had left that position years earlier. Second, an examination of Niger's uranium industry showed that an international consortium controls the yellowcake closely, so the Niger government does not have any yellowcake to sell.

A highly dramatic, clear-cut debunking—but one that is based on fake facts. Ditto for the account given by Judis and Ackerman when they discussed the honest ambassador in a New Republic cover story released on June 23:

JUDIS/ACKERMAN (6/30/03): In his State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, Bush introduced a new piece of evidence to show that Iraq was developing a nuclear arms program: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. ... Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide."

One year earlier, Cheney's office had received from the British, via the Italians, documents purporting to show Iraq's purchase of uranium from Niger. Cheney had given the information to the CIA, which in turn asked a prominent diplomat, who had served as ambassador to three African countries, to investigate. He returned after a visit to Niger in February 2002 and reported to the State Department and the CIA that the documents were forgeries. The CIA circulated the ambassador's report to the vice president's office, the ambassador confirms to TNR. But, after a British dossier was released in September detailing the purported uranium purchase, administration officials began citing it anyway, culminating in its inclusion in the State of the Union. "They knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie," the former ambassador tells TNR. "They were unpersuasive about aluminum tubes and added this to make their case more persuasive.”

In this passage, Judis and Ackerman misstate what Bush said in his State of the Union; Wilson can’t be faulted for that. But they too reported the bogus story in which the honest ambassador—now a “prominent diplomat”—provided a clear-cut debunking of those famous forged documents.

In fact, those documents had been forged—but Wilson himself never saw them, played no role in their debunking. But so what? Somehow, Kristof/Pincus/Judis all heard a fake tale—a pleasing tale, with direct, clear-cut debunking at its core. But then, everybody in the press had been hearing this pleasing story at the time Joe Wilson went public. Wilson’s own Times column was more circumspect; it didn’t repeat these howling misstatements. (See above. Finally speaking on the record, Wilson expressly said that he hadn’t seen the forged documents.) But perhaps it took a bit of time for the press to notice an awkward fact—Wilson’s column didn’t really contradict what Bush had said in his State of the Union. The press had been hearing Hero Tales of direct debunking for months. Perhaps they didn’t notice, right off the bat, that Wilson’s column was somewhat less dramatic.

Aesop’s press corps loves a good fable. For two months, Wilson—on background—had offered just that. At any rate, the press corps was beginning to look for a tale which would illustrate their (accurate) new conclusion: Bush misled us on the way into war. But right up to this very day, Wilson’s “contradiction” doesn’t quite parse. Result? To this day, scribes misstate what Wilson said. It builds a more dramatic tale, in which contradictions are more direct. But that’s what Aesop’s press corps typically does when it decides to convince us rubes of the truth of its latest Group Judgment.

In this case, their judgment was accurate. They just chose a rather weak tale with which to convey that new judgment.

WHAT WILSON SAID IN HIS COLUMN: Here is Wilson’s fuller account of what he found in Niger:

WILSON (7/6/03): In late February 2002, I arrived in Niger's capital, Niamey, where I had been a diplomat in the mid-70's and visited as a National Security Council official in the late 90's...

I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.

But Bush never said a transaction took place! From that day to this, Aesop’s press corps has bent, shaved and rearranged facts to create a direct contradiction.

WHAT WILSON TOLD THE SENATE COMMITTEE: According to the report of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Wilson acknowledged that he was the source of the Pincus report. Why then did Pincus think that Wilson had debunked the forged documents? Prepare to avert your gaze:

SENATE INTELLIGENCE REPORT (page 45): The former ambassador said that he may have “misspoken” to the reporter when he said he concluded the documents were “forged.” He also said he may have become confused about his own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in March 2003 that the names and dates on the documents were not correct and may have thought he had seen the names himself.

The IAEA debunked the docs, not Wilson. But egad! According to Wilson, he may have confused his own work with that of the IAEA! Avert your gaze in embarrassment as you ponder how Kristof, Pincus and Judis/Ackerman came to write those bogus reports—reports which helped prepare the way for Wilson’s not-contradictory column.

If you're willing to give Wilson a pass on this issue, and you're willing to accept that he "mispoke", will you also give Libby and Rove a pass when they say, "I don't remember" or "I must have mispoke"...?

Isn't it hypocritical to give Wilson the benefit of the doubt when his own words cast aspersions on him? I don't believe Libby or Rove and I certainly won't give them the benefit of the doubt, but I certainly will hold Wilson up to the same standard of review as Libby and Rove.

Nobody gets a pass. Trust nobody. Look at the facts. Ask questions. Demand answers.

Reader (and lone CS guest blogger) "Antiaristo" has also pointed out the following in
comments to the previous CS report:

...In an interview aired Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes," Wilson said that Plame, 42, was in shock when she saw her name and that of her fictitious employer published in a syndicated column by Robert Novak.

"She felt like she'd been hit in the stomach. It took her breath away," Wilson said.

...Plame was in Novak's July 14 column, but Brewster-Jennings was in Novak's October 3 column.

Why is Wilson pretending that her name and that of her fictitious employer were published in the SAME column?

Perhaps Wilson "mispoke" again? How are we supposed to know when the guy is telling the truth? This statement makes it appear as if Plame's name as well as Brewster Jennings' were revealed at the same time. Perhaps Joe Wilson really meant to say, "She felt like she had been hit in the stomach twice"...? I don't know. Somebody who has access to him can ask if he mispoke again.

Had Wilson stood up before the war, America would owe him a great debt. And perhaps history will still defend his honor and show him to be a hero, but he's got a lot of questions to answer before any of us can be sure of his innocense or his guilt.

The Intelligence divisions of our Government are run by spooks. They are a different breed than the average person. They play games. Spin yarns. Conceive conspiracies. This is what they do. And they justify their decisions in the name of national security. But there's a profit margin built into war. The Carlyle Group and Haliburton have made billions because of war. We the people -- through the sweat of our labor -- line the pockets of these companies as they rebuild an Iraq which they also got paid to destroy.

"Creative destruction."

RICO. Keep that in mind. And when somebody tells you that the word "conspiracy" is for nuts, just ask them who wrote the RICO statutes and then ask them if they are willing to release everyone in the mafia who was convicted under RICO laws and other conspiracy laws. If conspiracy is for nuts, what the hell is that word doing in so many of our laws? Are the conspiracy laws nuts as well?

Americans are generally not spooks, but America better start thinking like them if it wants to know what really happened in the Plame affair.

So take a deep breath, put your bullshit detectors on and get to work. The country needs your scrutiny, questions and doubt. Blog comments are the way to make your voices heard. Letters and phonecalls to Congress are not going to cut it.

by CS