Cheney directed entire Plame outing


David Addington, chief legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, says he was taken aback when the White House started making public pronouncements about the CIA leak investigation.

In the fall of 2003, President Bush’s press secretary was categorically denying that either Karl Rove or I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was involved in exposing the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA employee married to a critic of the war in Iraq.

“Why are you making these statements?” Addington asked White House communications director Dan Bartlett.

“Your boss is the one who wanted” them, Bartlett replied, referring to Cheney.

With that, “I shut up,” Addington recalled recently for jurors in Libby’s CIA leak trial, which begins its fourth week on Monday with Libby’s lawyers calling their first witnesses.

So far, the testimony of Addington and other administration aides, along with documents and Libby’s audiotaped grand jury testimony, have provided a rare glimpse of how the Bush White House scrambled to respond to a political crisis as it intersected a criminal investigation.

At the intersection was Cheney, along with Rove and Libby, who were working in the summer of 2003 to rebut claims by Plame’s husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, that Bush had misled the nation about prewar intelligence on Iraq.

The White House denials on behalf of Rove and Libby came just before Rove secretly began acknowledging to the FBI that he had confirmed Plame’s identity for conservative columnist Bob Novak, who first published her name and relationship to Wilson.

About the same time, Libby came under suspicion because NBC News Washington bureau chief Tim Russert had talked to the FBI, contradicting Libby’s version of a conversation between the two men that would become the heart of the perjury and obstruction charges against Libby.

Bush and Cheney made a common mistake in their public handling of the Plame affair, says presidential scholar and University of Texas government professor Bruce Buchanan, who has watched Bush’s career since his days as Texas governor.

“They’re in a high-stakes game of poker, the immediate pressure is political and the people in charge are political people,” Buchanan said. “If there is a legal issue it will dawn, but by then someone is out on a limb.”

Testimony and documents in the trial show Rove joining Cheney in trying to undercut Wilson’s claim that the administration had twisted prewar intelligence to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

“We’re a day late in getting responses to the story,” Rove told a staff meeting, according to Libby’s notes.

“Get the full story out,” Cheney told aides, according to Libby’s grand jury testimony.

There were glitches in the leak campaign against Wilson.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller never wrote a story about it, even after Cheney persuaded Bush to declassify prewar intelligence so it could be shared with Miller. The intelligence report said Iraq was vigorously trying to acquire uranium from the African nation of Niger.

“It was a totally failed effort,” Libby told the grand jury of his meetings with Miller.

But there were successes too.

Libby recalled asking Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to reach out to The Wall Street Journal.

“I don’t have as good a relationship with The Wall Street Journal as Secretary Wolfowitz did,” Libby told the grand jury. “I talked to Secretary Wolfowitz about trying to get that point across, and he undertook to do so.”

The Journal ran an editorial focusing on the theme Libby wanted. The editorial stated that the prewar intelligence the newspaper was describing had not come from the White House, “which to our mind has handled this story in a hamhanded fashion.”

In the Libby trial, Bush comes across mostly as an interested observer.

According to Libby’s notes, some of which surfaced at the trial, Bush expressed interest in a May 6, 2003 New York Times column critical of the administration and referencing an unnamed former ambassador, who turned out to be Wilson.

In questioning Libby before the grand jury, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald juxtaposed Bush’s public statements condemning leakers and Libby’s contacts with reporters, some of whom have testified against him.

“Were you at all concerned that while the president was stating that there’s no White House involvement in any leaks whatsoever, that you were one of the people who may have been referred to” in press reports about possible White House leakers? asked Fitzgerald.

In the grand jury recordings, the prosecutor also asked Libby about his interaction with Rove a few days before Novak exposed Plame’s CIA identity. Libby said Rove “was animated that Novak was animated about this.” Libby added that Rove “thought it was a good thing that somebody was writing about” Wilson and his wife.

Cheney told Libby early in the effort to deal with Wilson that his wife worked at the CIA. And while the Cheney-Libby team worked in lockstep attacking Wilson in July 2003, Libby said he faced a somewhat distant vice president when the affair came under investigation, first by the Justice Department, then by Fitzgerald.

Regarding his discussions with reporters about Wilson’s wife, “I would have been happy to unburden myself” to Cheney, Libby told the grand jury, but “he didn’t want to hear it.”

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press


  1. Kent Shaw

    JimZ, actually when it all comes down I’m sort of hoping to be sitting on a bulls-eye. I just hope its an air burst so I get to see the flash. Maybe they’ll do it on the 4th of July.

  2. Just Google Cheney, Pentegon Sources, Nuclear Strike. You’ll see. It’s going to happen – already planned. Sad but true. Planet earth is really really dumb.

  3. Jim Z I hope you’re right. But you forgot Kelp tablets. It protects your thyroid against radiation. Some people take them everyday anyway for proper thyroid balance. Kelp it rhymes with Help.

  4. JimZ

    “msrp” and Kent, until then, stock up on canned food, bottled water, generator, flashlight, guns, ammunition, and seal your home from the global radioactive fallout (yea right, or just build a fallout shelter). Oh, and better take some DVD’s and books. It may be a long wait (300 years?).

  5. It’s Cheney who wants to nuke Iran. 17 million people, mostly under 30, mostly pro-American, (except for their nutjob president who has no power anyway)have to be exposed to more savage U.S. torture and quite possibly nukes. According to Harold Pinter, Nobel Prize Winner, (Literature) the U.S. has 200 some odd trigger ready nukes, (ready in 15 minutes), along with Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the previous post might not be that far off. Pray to your God whatever you call her, that we can evolve upward from our idiot dark ways.

  6. Kent Shaw

    I believe it will soon be over. Watch for the mushroom clouds. Never had to happen but for the evangelical psychopath in the white house believing he speaks directly to God who has ordered him to bring down armageddon. Someone must soon physically restrain Bush before he destroys the earth.

  7. Is there any hope for saving this country if the machines that tabluate our votes are owned by one elite group of radical right-wing neocons from hell. ie: E.S.&S and Diebold both owned & run by the far right. Seems like the most connected fat cat wins no matter what. Congress is worthless. I’ve been voting for 36 years and nothing’s changed but the weather. The Dems are all too prissy, central, Republican and afraid of having some hair, (or teeth) for that matter. The masses can’t get un-dummied down with corporate media so how would they know who to vote for anyway…it’s next to hopeless.


    Would we as an educated, intelligent society if we allow the government of the US to continue to fail as it is so miserably doing?

    It’s up to the American people, WE the People! Get on Nextrev. & be the boss!

    Or, continue to allow the failure at our expense. 38,000,000 Americans living in poverty, millions more on the bubble, 45,000,000 without health insurance. War in Iraq based on lies, Social Security, Medicare, & Medicaid, going broke. $9 trillion in debt!

    If our represnetatives worked as hard for US as they do their campiagn contributors would all the above be such as it is?

    Over 50,000 Americans died in Vietnam, in front of weapons bought from communist countries. Were we fighting communism or financing it? Russia went broke about thirteen years ago fight in Afghanistan much the same as we are now.

    America has sold weapons to countries Americans are now fighting or about have to face due to Bush. Are nor intelligent enough to make our government do what we pay them to do?

    As shareholders of the largest corporation in the world, are we impotent? Would we send our soldiers, our families to die in war when it is a lie?

    If were’re going to fight terror, does it make sense to allow our government to become the best weapon terrorist could have, failing here in America while Americans die in Iraq? The sons & daughters of those who promotethis war in Ivy league schools learning to become the next generation of mis-represenatatives sending the next generation of working class Americans to die. Die while paying all the taxes corporate un-America evades through campaign contributions!

    Is it time, way past time to put our government in it’s place, working for US? Not campaign contributors making billions of $ for pennies on the dollar while buying our representation.

    Or, Is America’s battle cry of the 21st century? “There nothing you can do?”

  9. Kent Shaw

    thomas bonsell: “The Constitution empowers the president power to issue pardons for anyone who commits “offenses against the United States, EXCEPT IN CASES OF IMPEACHMENT.”

    Thank you. I stand corrected.

  10. This is a great thread. But I think the missing link is the people themselves. I’m doing a lot of correspondence with old pals who have taken pride in the Republican Party. I mention this because that was my group. Anyway they all seem to either not see the corruption or refuse to believe it. They think this Libby mess is a set up by the Liberals and he and Cheney will be forgiven for their faulty memories.

    These are the same moralists who would have taken Clinton out and thrown him off the Washington monument if they could.

    I’ve been a Republican longer than most people anywhere and if I can see the blatant evil and corruption in this Bush Administration, anybody can. I’m getting tired of excusing the people in the Bush Administration. The first years I thought Bush was simply stupid but I’ve change my mind. There is a destruction in the White House that cannot be denied.

    I hold no hope for the GOP to discover their leader is simply running on corruption and we are going to have to find a new level of strong American voters to change the white house diapers.

  11. Catherine Burke

    Why is nobldy talking about the damage done to our intelligence function due to the outing of Valerie Plame? She was in a cover organization; everyone in that organization has been exposed along with all their contacts. All Plame’s contacts have been exposed. How many people who trusted our government have been killed?

    A Vice President who would expose this entire intelligence apparatus is surely a traitor to our country.

  12. Ted

    They look criminal, they smell criminal and they act criminal.

    Only a group of cowards would not hold this bunch accountable. The yellow stripe running up the back of congress just fluoresced for all to see. Only problem is the congress itself is blind to it.

  13. GlennK

    Bu$h and Cheney have attempted to turn the clock on Presidential power back to before Tricky Dick was booted for his various and sundry crimes against “the Constitution.” Cheney in particular wants Bu$h to claim dictatorial powers as his “Divine right.” If the D’s don’t Impeach these klowns when all is said and done they end of winning this one. If they do we essentially no longer live in a Constitutional Republic but a Lawless Empire where the Rich and powerful do as they please without the restraint of Law.

  14. thomas bonsell

    To: Kent Shaw:

    A small correction here to your post at #4. You say that George Bush would merely pardon Cheney for his involvement in this horrid affair. I, too, felt that impeachment wasn’t good enough; that we needed hearings to collect all evidence to turn over to international courts for war-crimes trials, and hopefully, that could still happen.

    But impeachment is the first step. The Constitution empowers the president power to issue pardons for anyone who commits “offenses against the United States, EXCEPT IN CASES OF IMPEACHMENT.”

    Impeach first, and Bush can’t pardon anyone, including himself.

  15. JimZ

    You know, with support from some actual honest do-good millionaires/billionaires and some within the current government would be about the only way a movement and Constitutional Convention could take place. They’d literally have to provide security and set up a legal basis.

    This can’t be done without resources and some assistance from some portion of the wealthy. Otherwise, the Duopoly would do everything to never let it get off the ground.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of any honest super-wealthy Americans that gives a dang about anyone but themselves and their fellow blue-bloods.

    The only way I see this happen is if we end up in a complete unforseen financial meltdown, potentially depriving the wealthy of all their wealth, before they can send it overseas & convert it.

    Then they’d help just to save their own hides.

  16. Kent Shaw


    Article V provides for a constitutional convention. Both parties would fight that though and I don’t see it happening.


  17. Ray

    This is probably a far fetched idea, but is it possible to write a new Declaration of Constitution? A new revised version free of the loopholes. One that would state declarations that strengthened the old ones that are beat down, back stabbed, and wrongly defined. There has to be some brilliant minds amongst all the fine readers Who can brainstorm a way to take back our country.

  18. Kent Shaw

    JimZ: “I could easily see the Democrats currently in power NOT ending the Iraq war, just so they can use Ending The War as their main platform in the 2008 election.”

    This is of course EXACTLY what is happening. Pelosi is a billionaire. She has no use for us peons, only for continued power for her and her globalist backers.