White House Defense Shaky in CIA Leak Case(emphasis added)
By PETE YOST
WASHINGTON (AP) - Even if White House aides leaked a covert CIA officer's identity, they were simply passing along information they'd already heard from the news media, the administration's supporters maintain in a defense that looks increasing shaky as new evidence accumulates.
Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald now knows that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, met three times with a New York Times reporter before the leak of Valerie Plame's identity, that Libby initiated a call to NBC newsman Tim Russert and that Libby was a confirming source about the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson for a Time magazine reporter.
Presidential political adviser Karl Rove has testified that it's possible Libby was his source before Rove talked to two reporters about the CIA operative.
Where Libby first heard the information still isn't publicly known, but a full three weeks before Plame's name first showed up in print, Libby was telling New York Times reporter Judith Miller that he thought Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, according to Miller's testimony.
While Libby maintains that he didn't know Plame's name until it was published in the news media, the now-public evidence suggests Libby at least was aware that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and that he spread the information.
[snippage to the good stuff]
Until this week, ``the news media did it'' was a standard defense among Republicans trying to protect the Bush administration from the political fallout of Fitzgerald's criminal investigation. Loyalists said that even if White House aides had passed on information, they didn't get it from classified sources and were simply repeating what they heard from journalists.
In grand jury testimony shown to Rove, Libby said he had told Rove about information he had gotten about Wilson's wife from Russert, according to a person directly familiar with the information.
Prosecutors, however, have a different account from Russert. The TV network has said Russert told authorities he did not know Wilson's wife's identity until it was published and therefore could not have told Libby about it. Russert also says that it was Libby who initiated the contact with him.
So Libby's a slam dunk indictee, probably along with Rove, and very likely, Judith Miller will get hit with an obstruction charge, altho that's likely to be more an arm twisting for her truthful and remembered testimony about what transpired than for an actual attempt to obstruct justice.
Who knows, though? Perhaps Fitzgerald has it on good authority that she knew, and agreed not to write her story? That cryptic note about the aspens turning indicates to me a semi-coded message. Sometimes being a writer and actor forces you to consider a logical alterantive to gobbledy goop.
Aspens turning. It's Fall, as Libby clearly references. October. Surprises. Halloween. John Denver had a song, "Starwood in Aspen". Starwood is a hotel chain. "Aspens" is also the name of a hotel near Whistler in Canada (British Columbia, I think). An aspen is a willow tree. Is Miller taller than Libby?
Libby is correct that aspens are connected by the roots. Funny thing is, the trees only live to be 100-150 years old, but the roots can last for thousands of years? Third Reich? Fourth Reich? PNAC?
This is all free association. My suspicion is Libby and Rove will fall on their swords knowing that they've left in place a root system that will allow their reign of terror and criminal behavior to live on, much like a mafia don's does when he goes to prison.
And it fits with the hubris of this administration that they would consider threatening (because that's the way I see this letter: a threat to Miller to not talk, but to not hide any longer) a reporter to keep the larger agenda out of the public eye.
I don't think it will work, but it might. They've gotten away with less bold manoeuvers.