Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Plame leaker blames White House memo for his 'foolish' actions

The outer now agrees with the outed that it was a foolish thing to have done. However, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's real motivations when he told columnist Robert Novak in 2003 that Valerie Plame Wilson worked at the CIA still remain in question.

"I think it was extraordinarily foolish of me," Armitage agreed, after CNN's Wolf Blitzer played him a clip of Wilson saying recently, "Mr. Armitage did a very foolish thing. He's been around Washington for decades. He should know better. He's a senior government official."

Armitage insisted, however, that "there was no ill intent on my part. I'd never seen, ever, in 43 years of having a security clearance, a covered operative's name in a memo." This was a reference to an internal White House memo on Ambassador Joseph Wilson's trip to the African nation of Niger to investigate claims that Saddam Hussein has been attempting to purchase uranium.

When journalist David Corn revealed Armitage's role last year, he explained that "Amitage had been sent a key memo about Wilson's trip that referred to his wife and her CIA connection, and this memo had been written, according to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, at the request of I. Lewis Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. ... The memo included information on Valerie Wilson's role in a meeting at the CIA that led to her husband's trip. This critical memo was ... based on notes that were not accurate."

Armitage thus appeared to be attempting to cast the ultimate blame for Plame's outing on Scooter Libby and Vice President Cheney. He also took pains in his interview with Blitzer to stress that the memo he'd seen described Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife only as a CIA analyst who "was publicly chairing a meeting" to discuss the possibility of her husband going to Africa and that he had no way of knowing she was covert.

"The only way I knew a Mrs. Wilson -- not Mrs. Plame -- worked at the agency was because I saw it in a memo," Armitage said. "Even Mr. Novak has said that he used the word 'operative' and misused it. No one ever said 'operative.'"

In focusing on those two specific points, Armitage appeared to be making a case that he could not have been the source for Robert Novak's statement in his July 14, 2003 column that "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."

Since his involvement was revealed, Armitage has consistently presented himself as a non-partisan State Department figure with no connection to the White House campaign against Ambassador Wilson and no motivation for having revealed the identify of a covert CIA operative.

However, Robert Novak noted last year, "Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear that he considered it especially suited for my column. ... During his quarter of a century in Washington, I had had no contact with Armitage before our fateful interview. I tried to see him in the first 2 1/2 years of the Bush administration, but he rebuffed me -- summarily and with disdain, I thought. Then, without explanation, in June 2003, Armitage's office said the deputy secretary would see me."

Armitage's claims of non-partisanship are further undercut by a speech he delivered in Australia in August 2003, in which he stated, "I don’t want to leave this podium without addressing something that has aroused a great deal of concern here and in my country, and that is the fact that we have not yet found enough evidence of Saddam Hussein’s programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. We will. I have absolute confidence about that. Indeed, the fact that it has taken us this long to find the evidence is a chilling reminder that these programs are far too easy to move, and I believe far too easy to hide."

Finally, David Corn has cast doubt on Armitage's excuse that he'd merely gotten carried away in spreading gossip, pointing out that "when Armitage testified before the Iran-contra grand jury many years earlier, he had described himself as 'a terrible gossip.' Iran-contra independent counsel Lawrence Walsh subsequently accused him of providing 'false testimony' to investigators but said that he could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Armitage's misstatements had been 'deliberate.'"

The following video is from CNN's Late Edition, broadcast on November 11, 2007.


capt said...

The soft, the complacent the self-satisfied societies will be swept away with the debris of history - John Fitzgerald Kennedy

"The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it." -- John Locke (1632-1704) English philosopher and political theorist. Considered the ideological progenitor of the American Revolution and who, by far, was the most often non-biblical writer quoted by the Founding Fathers of the USA. 1693

"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses." -- Major General Smedley Darling Butler (1981-1940) Major General USMC, "Old Gimlet Eye'' and "Hell Devil Darling", most highly decorated military men from the pre-World War II era. Source: from a speech in 1933


Thanks ICH Newsletter!

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Off-topic: Tests have shown high levels of LEAD in some lipsticks. A .pdf article called "A Poison Kiss" is available at safecosmetics.org.

Another wonderful gift from the deregulation-crazed Radical Right.