Treasongate: Beyond Karl Rove

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Treasongate is one of a great number of "-gate" names which have been popularly applied to the White House leak and July 14, 2003, "outing" of Valerie Plame by reporter Robert Novak as a covert CIA operative.

Karl Rove's involvement in the scandal first gained footing in July 2005 with the mainstream media, giving rise to questions and speculation as to who else in the George W. Bush administration might be involved in Treasongate ... Beyond Karl Rove, that is.

Interest emerged again following the September 30, 2005, grand jury testimony by Judith Miller, released from jail the day before: "As the CIA leak investigation heads toward its expected conclusion this month, it has become increasingly clear that two of the most powerful men in the Bush administration" -- Karl Rove and I. Lewis Scooter Libby-- "were more involved in the unmasking of operative Valerie Plame than the White House originally indicated." --Jim VandeHei and Walter Pincus, Washington Post, October 2, 2005.

Also see: Trial of Scooter Libby.

Facts, Rumors & Speculation

New White House Indictments to Come?

The second part of the federal investigation by Special Prosecuor Patrick J. Fitzgerald is "nearly complete with attorneys and government officials" -- who "work or worked at the State Department, the CIA and the National Security Council" -- "who have remained close to the probe saying that a grand jury will likely return an indictment against one or two senior Bush administration officials", Jason Leopold wrote March 28, 2006, for truthout. Possibilities include White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley.

Libby Indicted

On October 28, 2005, Libby resigned after being indicted on five counts which included obstruction of justice, making false statements and perjury.

Leak Probe Extended: New Grand Jury

Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald said in court filings obtained by Reuters, Friday, November 18, 2005, "that the ongoing CIA leak investigation will involve proceedings before a new grand jury, a possible sign he could seek new charges in the case," Adam Entous reported. "Fitzgerald said 'the investigation is continuing' and that 'the investigation will involve proceedings before a different grand jury than the grand jury which returned the indictment' against Vice President Dick Cheney chief of staff, Lewis 'Scooter' Libby."

Also see Carol D. Leonnig and Jim VandeHei, "Another Grand Jury for Leak Case. Move Follows Woodward Talks," Washington Post, November 19, 2005.

Second Time Reporter to Testify

Time magazine reporter Viveca Novak, "who has written about the leak investigation, has been asked to testify" under oath about "conversations she had [starting] in [May] 2004" with Robert D. Luskin, a "lawyer for Karl Rove, the magazine said," David Johnston, reported in the November 28, 2005, New York Times.

"The request for Ms. Novak's testimony is the first tangible sign in weeks that Mr. Fitzgerald has not completed his inquiry into Mr. Rove's actions and may still be considering charges against him," Johnston wrote.

"senior administration official" told Woodward

According to a statement released November 15, 2005, by Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward, in a more than two-hour deposition under oath November 14th, he told Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald that a "senior administration official [casually] told him in mid-June 2003 that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction, and that he did not believe the information to be classified or sensitive."

"Citing a confidentiality agreement in which the source freed Woodward to testify but would not allow him to discuss their conversations publicly, Woodward and Post editors refused to disclose the official's name or provide crucial details about the testimony. Woodward did not share the information with Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. until last month, and the only Post reporter whom Woodward said he remembers telling in the summer of 2003 does not recall the conversation taking place." [1]

White House Criminal Conspiracy?

"... we now have Karl, Scooter, and a third senior official all just 'happening' to be telling numerous journalists that Amb. Wilson's wife is a CIA agent, yet we're to believe that this is NOT part of a coordinated conspiracy to spread that info?," John Aravosis of AMERICAblog wrote November 16, 2005.

Anatomy of a White House Smear

The CBS News 60 Minutes transcript for Sunday, October 30, 2005,'s "The Exposure Of Valerie Plame" is available online. Valerie Plame, the "woman at the center isn’t talking. But 60 Minutes Correspondent Ed Bradley did hear from her husband, her friends and fellow agents who knew her work, and helped us understand what happens when an agent for the CIA is exposed." Video and transcript available on Daily Dissent Blogspot.

Also see:

Treasongate Goes Online

Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald launched his own DoJ website, complete with contact information, links to documents about his appointment, "News" items, and "Legal Proceedings," Dan Froomkin wrote in the October 21, 2005, Washington Post.

Since Libby's indictment, those documents are available on the DoJ website as well.

Database of 21 Bush administration officials involved in leak coverup

A comprehensive database of 21 Bush regime officials who were involved in the leak coverup was posted August 12, 2005, by think tank Think Progress. Internet traffic attempting to connect with the database continues extremely high and the connection frequently fails (August 12, 2005).

Top CIA Leak Investigation Falsehoods

Media Matters for America has posted an overview, with links, to the top lies about the CIA leak investigation. --October 21, 2005.

Plame Scorecard

On November 16, 2005, Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly posted a "Plame Scorecard" of "reporters who were told by [Bush] administration officials that 'Joe Wilson's wife' worked at the CIA."

Smears, Lies and Videotape

Think Progress posted online links to its "Smears, Lies and Videotape: A Leak Scandal Documentary" on November 16, 2005.

Cheney's WHIG

The investigation had "turned toward a little known cabal of administration hawks known as the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which came together in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. WHIG was founded by Bush chief of staff" Andrew H. Card, Jr. and operated out of Vice President Dick Cheney’s office," Jason Leopold wrote in the October 12, 2005, The Raw Story.

"Lawyers in the case said Fitzgerald has focused extensively on whether behind-the-scenes efforts by the vice president's aides and other senior Bush aides were part of a criminal campaign to punish Wilson in part by unmasking his wife," Jim VandeHei and Walter Pincus wrote in the October 17, 2005, Washington Post. It is "increasingly clear that Cheney and his aides have been deeply enmeshed in events surrounding the Plame affair from the outset."

"Fitzgerald may be looking at a broader conspiracy case of pre-war machinations by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) and by the Pentagon’s ultra-secret Office of Net Assessment, the former operating out of Dick Cheney’s office and tasked with 'selling' the war in Iraq, and the latter operating out of Defense Under Secretary for Policy, Douglas Feith’s office and tasked with creating a war to 'sell,' as some describe," Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold wrote in The Raw Story October 18, 2005.

Cheney Out? Condi In?

"Cheney resignation rumors fly" Paul Bedard wrote in his October 18, 2005, "White House Watch." "Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."

"The rumor spread so fast that some Republicans by late morning were already drawing up reasons why Rice couldn't get the job or run for president in 2008," Bedard wrote.

The Art of Lying

Judith Miller's July 8, 2003, notes indicate that Libby "apparently gave her ... inaccurate information about where Valerie Plame worked in the CIA, a mistake that could be important to the criminal investigation," Associated Press writers John Solomon and Pete Yost reported October 18, 2005.

Libby told Miller "that the wife of Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson worked for the CIA's Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation and Arms Control unit. ... Plame, Wilson's wife, never worked for WINPAC, which is on the overt side of the CIA. She worked on the CIA's secret side, the directorate of operations, according to three people familiar with her work for the spy agency."

White House Involvement

"How far up the White House food chain does the rot of treason go? 'Bush has always known how to keep Rove in his place,' wrote Time in 2002 about a 'symbiotic relationship' that dates to 1973. This isn't some rogue 'plumbers' operation [ like Watergate ]. Rove would never go it alone on a high-stakes action like Valerie Plame. It's a safe bet that other, higher-ranking figures in the Bush cabal--almost certainly Dick Cheney and possibly Bush himself--signed off before Rove called Novak. For the sake of national security, those involved should be removed from office at once." --Ted Rall, July 5, 2005.

Dick Cheney and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby

On the July 17, 2005, Meet the Press, reporter Matthew Cooper said that Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide was among the sources for a Time magazine reporter's story about the identity of a CIA officer ...

"Until last week, the White House had insisted for nearly two years that vice presidential chief of staff Lewis Libby and presidential adviser Karl Rove were not involved in the leaks of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity." --Associated Press, July 17, 2005.

Snitching on Cheney

Snitching on Cheney--Part 1
"Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch," New York Daily News reporters James Gordon Meek, Thomas M. DeFrank, and Kenneth R. Bazinet wrote October 18, 2005. "'They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that."

The identity of that senior cooperating witness may well be John Hannah, a "senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs," John R. Bolton, "sources close to the investigation said," Larisa Alexandrovna and Jason Leopold reported in The Raw Story October 18, 2005.

"Others close to the probe say that if Hannah is cooperating with the special prosecutor then he was likely going to be charged as a co-conspirator and may have cut a deal," Alexandrovna and Leopold said.

Snitching on Cheney--Part 2
"Now, those close to the investigation say that a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney’s office to discredit" Joseph Wilson, The Raw Story's Alexandrovna and Leopold reported October 19, 2005.

Snitching on Cheney--Parts 3-??
National Journal's 'Hotline' has the "F List" of those "who have either testified or have been interviewed by Patrick Fitzgerald (or by FBI agents) in connection with the Plame probe. ... Inclusion does not necessarily indicate that the listed person has testified under oath."

Case Not Closed on Cheney

President Bush

"Near the end of a round table discussion on ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos dropped this bomb:

"'Definitely a political problem but I wonder, George Will, do you think it’s a manageable one for the White House especially if we don’t know whether Fitzgerald is going to write a report or have indictments but if he is able to show as a source close to this told me this week, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were actually involved in some of these discussions.'

"This would explain why Bush spent more than an hour answering questions from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. It would also fundamentally change the dynamics of the scandal. President Bush could no longer claim he was merely a bystander who wants to 'get to the bottom of it.' As Stephanopoulos notes, if Bush played a direct role it could make this scandal completely unmanageable."

Source: Judd Legum, Think Progress, October 2, 2005. Video WMP and QT links posted on Crooks and Liars website.

Related Links

Earlier Speculation

"It is about the president of the United States. It is about a plot that was hatched at the top of the administration and in which everyone else, Mr. Rove included, are at most secondary players." --Frank Rich, New York Times, July 17, 2005.

"Bush either relied on McClellan's public statements that Rove had told McClellan he wasn't involved, and Rove lied, or that Bush talked to Rove and Rove lied to the president as well, or that Bush knew the truth and permitted his staff to lie. In the best case scenario for Bush, Rove lied to White House staff about the scandal and let them go public with that lie." --John Aravosis, AMERICAblog, July 24, 2005.

"If Bush spoke to Rove early on, as it was claimed, to find out if he was the leaker, then Rove either lied -- or not -- to Bush. Since we now know that Rove was one of the leakers, he needs to be fired immediately if only for lying to Bush about it. If he didn't lie to Bush -- and chose to share the truth with his good friend by letting him know in some way that he leaked -- then it means that Bush has been involved in a cover-up of that fact this entire time." --Brad Friedman, BradBlog, July 24, 2005.

Related Links

John Ashcroft

Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) "will be issuing a formal request for an immediate investigation with the US Inspector General's office into John Ashcroft - former US Attorney General," The Raw Story reported August 17, 2005.

"The request - released to Raw Story - cites conflict of interest on the part of Ashcroft in his failure to promptly recuse himself during the initial investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Wilson. Ashcroft was US Attorney General at the time." Note: Text of the request follows article introduction.

Andrew H. Card, Jr. and Alberto R. Gonzales

"As White House counsel, [Alberto Gonzales] was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson’s wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must 'preserve all materials' relevant to the investigation." --Frank Rich, New York Times, July 24, 2005.

On the Sunday, July 24, 2005, edition of CBS’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer noted that a 12-hour "time gap would have 'give[n] people time to shred documents and do any number of things.' Gonzales argued that he asked for and received permission from the Justice Department to wait until the next morning to order White House staff to preserve all documents regarding their contacts with journalists about Valerie Plame. But he did tell one person the night before" ... White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card ... "'and, shortly thereafter, there was a notification sent out to all the members of the White House staff.'" --Think Progress, July 24, 2005.

"The White House did not immediately respond to questions Sunday [July 24, 2005] about whether Card passed that information to top Bush aide Karl Rove or anyone else, giving them advance notice to prepare for the investigation." --Associated Press, July 24, 2005.

The Carpetbagger Report reported July 25, 2005, that the case has been understated, as it was on Friday, September 26, 2003, that "the CIA directed the Justice Department to launch a criminal probe into the leak. Three days later, on Monday, Sept. 29, 2003, the WH counsel's office was formally notified about the investigation. And then 12 hours after that, Gonzales told White House staff to preserve materials. In other words, the amount of time Bush aides were given to, perhaps, discard and destroy relevant evidence after the DoJ began its work wasn't just 12 hours; it was several days." [2]

This was not "news" at the time, the Report points out, as Alex Johnson and Andrea Mitchell reported September 26, 2003, on MSNBC and NBC News that the CIA had "asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman's husband, a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush's since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa." [3]

Therefore, the Report continued, "This means Rove & Co. learned on Friday night that they were being investigated, but weren't formally told to start securing relevant materials until Tuesday morning. In case the MSNBC report wasn't clear enough, a front-page article was published in the Washington Post about the Justice Department's criminal investigation a full 48 hours before WH staffers were told to preserve potentially incriminating evidence."

"The Bush gang didn't have 12 hours to cover their tracks -- they had a whole weekend." [4]

Ari Fleischer

  • "People familiar with the inquiry say Fitzgerald also is reviewing testimony by former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, though it is not clear whether the prosecutor is focusing on him or seeking information about higher-ups. Fleischer last night refused to comment." --Bloomberg News, July 13, 2005.
  • "Along with Bush political guru Karl Rove, the grand jury is investigating what role, if any, ex-White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer may have played in the revelation that the former covert operative Plame was married to former Ambassador Joe Wilson." --New York Daily News, July 15, 2005.

White House Iraq Group

"By defending the Wilsons, Left Blogostan simply helps Right Blogostan keep the focus off of Rove and his White House dirty tricks operation. It boggles the mind that more than a year after Fitzpatrick subpoened the records of the 'White House Iraq Group,' and nearly a week after the Newsweek story highlighted the obvious connection between Plame's outing and the administration's WMD disinformation campaign, virtually nothing about this shadowy committee has appeared in the mainstream press. If Left Blogostan can do anything useful here, it will be to urge (we're not strong enough to intimidate) the corporate media to keep the focus on Rove, and to point the direction we think they should be going to develop the larger story." --Billmon, Whiskey Bar, July 14, 2005.

Media Coverup

"In an article in the September [2005] issue of Vanity Fair (not yet online), Michael Wolff ["All Roads Lead to Rove"], in probing the Plame/CIA leak scandal, rips those in the news media -- principally Time magazine and The New York Times -- who knew that Karl Rove was one of the leakers but refused to expose what would have been 'one of the biggest stories of the Bush years.' Not only that, 'they helped cover it up.' You might say, he adds, they 'became part of a conspiracy.'" --Greg Mitchell, Editor & Publisher, August 11, 2005.

Predicting Scandal

Former White House Counsel to President Richard M. Nixon, John W. Dean -- involved in the Watergate scandal -- prophetically wrote July 19, 2002:

"Those who make it to the White House - both by election and selection - often have more hubris than common sense, and are easily blinded by the spotlight in whose glare they live. The White House, notwithstanding efforts to keep the blinds drawn, is a fish bowl. It magnifies everything for those looking in, and distorts the world for those looking out. ... History suggests either Bush or Cheney are a presidential scandal ready to happen. Hopefully, it won't happen. However, I'd give two-to-one odds it will."

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