Thursday, July 5, 2007

Armitage leak does not exonerate Libby

From Media Matters:

"Media still repeating false claim that Armitage role in Plame leak exonerates Libby
Following President Bush's decision to commute the prison sentence for former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, media figures have continued to repeat the false claim that former deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage's role as columnist Robert D. Novak's original source for Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative proves Libby was not involved in the leak of her identity. However, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, the fact that Armitage was the original source for Novak's column revealing Plame's identity is not inconsistent with Libby's disclosure of Plame's identity -- specifically, to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller -- before the publication of Novak's column.

On the July 3 edition of NBC's Today, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol claimed: "Scooter Libby does not deserve to go to jail. I would remind Joe Wilson that Scooter Libby did not leak Valerie Plame's name. Richard Armitage told Robert Novak, we now know, about Valerie Plame's name, so this was an investigation that should never have happened. There was no underlying crime." Kristol was referring to former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame's husband, who reportedly issued a statement saying that "the president's actions send the message that leaking classified information for political purposes is acceptable" and that "Mr. Libby not only endangered Valerie and our family, but also our country's national security."

As Media Matters has previously documented, journalist Murray Waas noted in his book The United States v. I. Lewis Libby (Union Square Press, June 2007), Miller testified on January 30 that Libby had disclosed Plame's CIA employment to her at a July 8, 2003, breakfast meeting at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C., well before Novak publicly revealed it in his July 14, 2003, column. As Media Matters has also noted, it is likely of little significance whether Libby disclosed Plame's name, as opposed to the identity of Joseph Wilson's wife as a CIA employee, to a reporter.

From the edited trial transcript of Miller's January 30 testimony during Libby's trial, included in Waas' book:

Q: Did there come a time following the publication of [Ambassador Joseph] Wilson's op-ed [July 6, 2003] that you met with Mr. Libby again?
A: Yes.
Q: When was that?
A: July 8th.
Q: Was there discussion at any time about Mr. Wilson's wife [Plame] on this occasion?
A: Yes.
Q: Can you tell us what you recall about that?
A: Yes. Mr. Libby was discussing what he called two streams of reporting on uranium and on efforts by Iraq to acquire sensitive materials and components. He said the first stream was reports like that of Joe Wilson. Then he said the second stream, and at that point he said, once again, as an aside, that Mr. Wilson's wife worked at WINPAC.
Q: Can you tell us what WINPAC is?
A: Yes, WINPAC is, stands for Weapons Intelligence Non-Proliferation and Arms Control. It's a part of the CIA which is specifically focused on weapons of mass destruction.

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