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January 29, 2007

A Peek Inside The Media Circus

Posted in: CIA Leak Case,Legal,Valerie Plame

mediacircus.gif

(Graphics luv to Media Circus.  I like to think of this as the Cathie and Ari megaphone…)

From this morning’s blogging of the Libby trial proceedings:

…W You remember reading that Wilson’s wife was employed by CIA. After Novak disclosed Mr. Wilson’s wife. Is it correct that the talking points you were using WRT OVP was using did not change. At no time after it was disclosed did OVP change its position that the talking points should be on the merits and there was no need to mention Mrs. Wilson.

M We did not change our talking points.

W If you look at talking points before and after there is no mention of Mrs. Wilson. Is it fair to say that when the Novak article came out, from your personal perspective that was not viewed as a big article.

M It wasn’t a huge revelation to me because I KNEW, I knew it was a big deal that he had disclosed it.… (emphasis emptywheel)

Well, that pretty much undercuts that whole “who could have known because my busy job made me lie” defense, doesn’t it?  So much for the “we weren’t focusing on Wilson at all and ‘the wife’ was an afterthought,” too.

Or this from Ari Fleischer this morning:

P did you understand that it was classified

Fl absolutely not. There’s a very strict protocol when classified info is spread, my experience, when someone conveyed info that I was authorized to hear, it was always, “this is classified you’re authorized to hear.” When it’s oral, people always say, “this is classified you cannot use it.”  (emphasis mine)

Nice to know there is a whole White House press policy for discussing classified information that, according to their SF-312 agreements they SHOULD NOT BE DISCUSSING unless there is a national security “need to know” basis.  Wankers. 

The single most intriguing part of the trial thus far has been the exposure of the cynical media manipulation machine that is the Vice President’s and President’s press offices and how well-oiled and slick the machinery for these operations has been.  Cathie Martin’s testimony has been detailed and damaging in terms of credibility for any WH and OVP pronouncements, publicly and “on background” from here on out with the press corps (especially with bookings on MtP, I would imagine — in a town where reputation can be more important than substance, Tim Russert’s ego and credibility have been handed a big, ole stinkbomb in testimony). 

And Ari Fleischer is not likely to help out with this at all later today.  From Carol Leonnig and Amy Goldstein of the WaPo this morning:

…Fleischer had grown worried after reading a newspaper story about the leak investigation, prosecutors said this morning, then hired a lawyer to approach a government team investigating whether Bush administration officials illegally leaked information about Plame to reporters in the summer of 2003. 

“Reading the article gave him the feeling that he might be in legal jeopardy, despite the fact that he knew he hadn’t said anything to Mr. Novak and hadn’t intentionally tried to leak secret information,” said government prosecutor Debra Bon Amici. “He didn’t think he would be guilty of a crime, but he felt others might view it differently. In his heart of hearts, he didn’t believe he had done something wrong.”

That both helps and hurts the defense as they seek to discredit the testimony of Fleischer, a crucial government witness. Fleischer is expected to testify later today that Libby told him about Plame’s CIA role at an unusual lunch they had together on July 7, 2003, and described the information as “hush-hush.” Libby is charged with lying to investigators and falsely telling them that he thought he first learned about Plame’s identity from NBC reporter Tim Russert in a July 10 telephone call. That helps Fitzgerald show that Libby’s story is implausible, as he said at the opening of the trial: “You can’t learn startling information on Thursday that you were giving out on Monday.”…

Ought to be an awfully interesting day of testimony continuing into tomorrow, I would imagine — Fleischer will be grilled on the stand, first by the government in direct examination and then even more so by Team Libby on cross examination — and then through a series of re-direct and re-cross, I would imagine.  All this, and we haven’t even gotten to any reporter testimony as yet.  Something tells me that this week in the Libby trial is going to be a bumpy ride — for Libby, for Vice President Cheney’s office, for the White House spin machine, and for the Fourth Estate. 

And speaking of bumpy rides, Froomkin’s White House Briefing chronicles the wheel spinning of Dick Cheney of late.  Fantastic read today, and highly recommended.  (H/T to reader Jane S. for the heads up that Froomkin was back from sick leave.  Glad you are feeling better, Dan!)


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