Saturday, August 26, 2006

Armitage "slipped" and leaked Plame's name to Novak and Woodward

In their upcoming book, "Hubris," Michael Isikoff (Newsweek) and David Corn (The Nation) the authors reveal that Richard Armitage (former Deputy Sec. State) was Robert Novak's source on Plame. The leak was--according to Armitage--unintentional. Upon reading Novak's incriminating column about Joseph Wilson's wife, Armitage recounts that he freaked out and called Colin Powell to confess his role in the leak. Michael Isikoff gives us a sneak peak in his latest column:
Within hours [of Armitage's phone call to Powell], William Howard Taft IV, the State Department's legal adviser, notified a senior Justice official that Armitage had information relevant to the case. The next day, a team of FBI agents and Justice prosecutors investigating the leak questioned the deputy secretary. Armitage acknowledged that he had passed along to Novak information contained in a classified State Department memo: that Wilson's wife worked on weapons-of-mass-destruction issues at the CIA. (The memo made no reference to her undercover status.) Armitage had met with Novak in his State Department office on July 8, 2003—just days before Novak published his first piece identifying Plame.
[...] Armitage, a well-known gossip who loves to dish and receive juicy tidbits about Washington characters, apparently hadn't thought through the possible implications of telling Novak about Plame's identity. "I'm afraid I may be the guy that caused this whole thing," he later told Carl Ford Jr., State's intelligence chief. Ford says Armitage admitted to him that he had "slipped up" and told Novak more than he should have.
But that still leaves ol' Woody. Who told Bob Woodward?
According to three government officials, a lawyer familiar with the case and an Armitage confidant, all of whom would not be named discussing these details, Armitage told Woodward about Plame three weeks before talking to Novak.
Ok, you ask: who's this Armitage guy anyway?! What's his "deal?"
Indeed, Armitage was a member of the administration's small, moderate wing. Along with his boss and good friend, Powell, he had deep misgivings about President George W. Bush's march to war. A barrel-chested Vietnam vet who had volunteered for combat, Armitage at times expressed disdain for Dick Cheney and other administration war hawks who had never served in the military. Armitage routinely returned from White House meetings shaking his head at the armchair warriors. "One day," says Powell's former chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson, "we were walking into his office and Rich turned to me and said, 'Larry, these guys never heard a bullet go by their ears in anger … None of them ever served. They're a bunch of jerks'."
Importantly, Armitage was never charged for any wrongdoing in the leaking of Plame's covert status. But unlike Karl Rove, Armitage might have pre-empted any suspicion because he was immediately forthcoming to the FBI and other federal investigators.
Fitzgerald found no evidence that Armitage knew of Plame's covert CIA status when he talked to Novak and Woodward. The decision to go to the FBI that panicky October afternoon also may have helped Armitage. Powell, Armitage and Taft were aware of the perils of a cover-up—all three had had lived through the Iran-contra scandal at the Defense Department in the late 1980s.
Yes. We remember Iran-Contra. Boy howdy, do we remember that. Unfortunately, so does Scooter Libby. Remember "Gray Mail"? Libby's trial doesn't begin till next year. By the time the 2008/9 pardon-season rolls around it's like...um....leak? She was a covert agent? I don't know what you're talking about.

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