Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Grand jury focusing on war crimes charges against White House civilians?

UpdateThe Grand Jury appears to be looking at war crimes charges against the civilian leadership and advisors in the White House.

This blogspot discusses a number of questions about the "scope of the Fitzgeral investigation." A WaPo piece discussed the scope of the grand jury review, but in my view didn't really address what changed.

Context [Update 3 Aug 2005]

This WaPo article mentions that the Fitzgerald investigation is casing a wide net. It's offering this as if it were news.

Small problem. I did some checking. The "wide net" argument was already being batted around April 2004:

The scope was already widened last April 2004

Prosecutors Are Said to Have Expanded Inquiry Into Leak of C.I.A. Officer's Name

Published: April 2, 2004

WASHINGTON, April 1 — Prosecutors investigating whether someone in the Bush administration improperly disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. officer have expanded their inquiry to examine whether White House officials lied to investigators or mishandled classified information related to the case, lawyers involved in the case and government officials say.

. . . .

. . . Meaning: "Normally" something like this "should have" been closed out very quickly.

So why is the "new net" that is "wider" suddenly "more wider" than the "wider neet" of 2004?

LOoks like things are getting very wide: War crimes, bad Congressmen, etc.

Original Blog

This blogspot raises a number of questions that others may want to look at: What is the actual scope of the Fitzgeral grand jury investigation? The WaPo piece generates many good questions.

Sharp's presence gives an insight into what the like object of the grand jury: The President.


Plame: Wider Fitzgerald probe, but Washington Post doesn't help clarify the changes

An interesting assertion, but the article doesn't do much to help clarify what's changed.

Thus, when WaPo says, "White House Effort To Discredit Critic Examined in Detail," I'm left wondering, "Where's the detail?" and "is this your idea of examining something in detail?" If it is, we're in trouble.

Ground Control, to Major Tom: "Help!"

Washington Post states that the Fitzgerald probe is wider than previously thought, and includes a number of new issues.

QUOTE: "The special prosecutor in the CIA leak probe has interviewed a wider range of administration officials than was previously known"

At this point: I'm wondering:

  • What are the new names
  • What are the new issues, questions
  • What was the old list of names, issues, and questions
  • What's changed

    The article goes into some discussion of what is known, but based on the wording of the article, I'm not clear on "what was known before" and "what is new."

    For example, when I read the following, several questions come to mind:
    Prosecutors have questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet and deputy director John E. McLaughlin, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, State Department officials, and even a stranger who approached columnist Robert D. Novak on the street.

  • Which of the names in the paragraph are new and not known before?

  • Now that we "know" there are new names and issues, what does this tell us about "what is new" or "what we didn't know before"?

    Another example in para 3, which reads,
    In doing so, special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked not only about how CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked but also how the administration went about shifting responsibility from the White House to the CIA for having included 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Africa, an assertion that was later disputed.
    Again, the questions are:

  • What wasn't known before
  • What's changed
  • When the authors state "but also how the administration went. . . " was that known before, or is this the new information?

    More broadly, I'm not clear on "what the real significance of this insight is". In other words, Washington Post is asserting "we have new information." But I think it would be reasonable for a reader to walk away with a clear answer:

  • What's new
  • What's changed
  • How are things different
  • What does this say about the direction and scope of the issues
  • Is there any commentary or speculation on the larger issues or direction of the investigation
  • How might the Congressional oversight of Fitzgerald be on or off the mark if the actual scope of the investigation is much wider than we are led to believe?

    Let me give you another example. Washington Post says,
    All that is known at this point are the names of some people he has interviewed, what questions he has asked and whom he has focused on.
    Again, the questions I ask now are:

  • What is actually known at this point?
  • What are the new names
  • What did we believe based on the "original names"
  • What new names indicate new issues?

    At this juncture, I'm simply left with the notion that "there is a larger scope," but there's little discussion as to the new names, issues, or questions that are being asked.

    If that's the case, then I'm wondering: Is this news? Maybe it is. But I would hope that there be something specific, not simply some vague cloud that seems to be undulating and twisting into new shapes in the dark.

    In general, the Washington Post offers a potentially important insight. But at this point, it's as meaningful as someone telling me, "The weather is changing."


    Is this it, buried?

    Well, maybe this is the key change, but at this point, I have no clue. Here's the quote,
    Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published.

    OK. Perhaps this is it. So why is it buried? If this is the main point, why isn't this up near the top saying flat out, "This is the new information" and "This is what it means."

    At this point, I have no clue.

    Moreover, what I'm looking for is something that says, "This is the new information" and "this is what we thought we knew before," and "based on this new information we now know X, Y, and Z are no longer consistent. Someone must be lying."

    Is this it?

    Well, still not satisfied, perhaps the answer lies in this statement,
    Harlow was also involved in the larger internal administration battle over who would be held responsible for Bush using the disputed charge about the Iraq-Niger connection as part of the war argument.
    If, in fact, this is the "new information," I'm wondering:

  • Is this "larger internal administration battle" the new information?

  • Has this "larger battle" not been discussed before?

  • Why are we finding out in 2005 that the "battle" was larger than what we thought at the time?

  • What were the results of this battle?

  • Did the Administration actually "hold someone responsible for the disputed charge"

    If this is the new information, and there was some sort of "resolution" to this matter, I then ask:

  • Why is the "resolution of this matter" [reasonably to get a solution and answer to a question and get a single story] not resulting in a consistent story between the RNC public smearing against Wilson and the overwhelming evidence supporting Joe Wilson's' versions?

  • If there was "some sort of resolution" [and this is the new information], why is the RNC still getting any traction in "what happened before the Wilson investigation" when supposedly all this was investigated?

  • if the "investigation and battle" is the new news, are we to believe that the White House 'effort to hold someone accountable" was not resolved; or that the investigation resulted in an conclusion that still is at odds with the supportable facts, as confirmed by the lack of WMD and Wilson's' public statements which remain beyond reproach?

  • If the "new news" is that there was some sort of Bush investigation into the matter, why are we still reading in 2005 RNC talking points which clearly indicate that this "investigation" is arriving at a conclusion that is contrary to fact?

    Again, the point is that I have no clue, based on the Washington Post article, what the "new information" is; or what the "new issues" are; or "how the current perspective constrains with what we were led to believe before.

    Either way, I don't care what the "new news is," I'm just looking for something clearly state what is or isn't changing. At this point, regardless of what changes or new issues there are, each potential "new news" in any of the WashingtonPost sentences, generates new questions based on the contrast between what we knew before, and what we now believe.

    It would be appropriate to get some clarification on what exactly changed so that we can get some perspective on what the most prudent questions are to ask in light of the apparent "contrast" and "inconsistencies" that would tend to rise to the surface of such a discussion, news article, and public review of the changes.


    After carefully reviewing the article, I'm walking away with more question that I think should be warranted.

    First, the article doesn't clearly contrast "what we thought we knew" vs. "what we think we know now."

    I was hoping for a two-column comparison. Specifically, I had hoped that the readers would be shown the [a] limited range of issues before we knew what we did; and compare that with [b] the longer list of issues, people, and questions.

    At this juncture, all I can go on is the assertion that "someone knows more than we did before," but what that "new thing is" remains unclear.

    I'm left wondering:

  • Now that we know the list of issues/witnesses is longer, what does this say about the scope of the investigation?

  • What new issues appear to be getting review?

  • What has changed "since our last review"?

  • How does the "list of issues we though they were looking at" compare with the "new list of issues that we think is longer"?

  • What new questions and issues are we now asking or think the Grand Jury and Fitzgerald are looking at that we didn't consider were possible before?

  • Given we think the list is wider than previously thought, is it inappropriate for the Congress to second guess Fitzgerald?

  • Is it possible that the "list of questions and issues that Fitzgerald is looking at" will be artificially "smaller than what is actually going on" in order to surprise potential investigation targets?

  • On the other hand, if the public is unreasonably mislead about the "scope of the actual investigation," could this misleading public discussion encourage the Congress to say to Fitzgerald, "Look, you've had all this time to look at the issue, but have nothing. It's over."


    When I hear that the "actual list" is longer than what we were led to believe, I am concerned that the basis for the Congressional review of Fitzgerald is going to be based on a misleading picture.

    I would hate to think that the "perceived list of issues" is much smaller than actual; or that the Federal Legislatures think the scope of the issues "that we though we knew" was smaller than what would justify this effort.

    What I would prefer

    Something that clarifies what has really changed between "the old list of what we though we knew Fitzgerald was looking at" and compare that with the "new, broader, bigger list" so that we can get an idea of:

  • What new issues are getting looked at that we didn't know about

  • What new questions or lines of inquiry are occurring

  • What was the reason that we didn't know this before

  • What magnitude of staffing is required to do this new, increased level of work

  • A discussion of what the Congress is using as the "Scope of work they believe the prosecutor is looking at"

  • A benchmark of what Congress might use to assess the reasonableness of the time, effort, and projected end-date on the scope of work; and compare that estimate with the "new scope of effort" required to cover the increased workload.

    AT this juncture, I have no clue what's new, what's changed, or what new questions the public might believe the Prosecutor is or isn't looking at.

    At best, the article is simply something that asserts "there is more going on," but doesn't help me get a handle of what has changed or any of the specific changes.

    An after thought

    Oh, well look at this, a key phrase in the Last paragraph of the article.
    People familiar with this part of the probe provided new details about the memo, including that it was then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage who requested it the day Wilson went public and asked that a copy be sent to then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to take with him on a trip to Africa the next day.

    Is that it?!?!?

  • What did we believe before?

  • Whose RNC memos are in question?

    In my opinion, if this "last paragraph" is the "news," the "rest of the article" should have looked at

  • the scope of the issues that are cast in a new light;

  • how their public statements are contrary to what we now know; and

  • the other types of issues raising doubts about the credibly of public statements or specific individuals; who they had contact with; and whether there is a pattern by specific organizations and entities under the White House that are forming a pattern of deception.

    Is this it?

    A former senior CIA official said yesterday that Tenet's statement was drafted within the agency and was shown only to Hadley on July 10 to get White House input. Only a few minor changes were accepted before it was released on July 11, this former official said. He took issue with a New York Times report last week that said Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, had a role in Tenet's statement.

  • How does the timeline stack up now?

  • If Hadley was shown this on July 10th, what in the RNC talking points is impossible to be relied upon?

  • Now that we know that the time between Hadly's review on the 10th to the release on the 11th, what is impossible to believe form the White House:

    - reviews
    - who did or didn't have access to the status of the employee
    - Why this type of sensitive information was apparently zipped around the White House in such a short time, but then Rove allegedly feigns stupidity about the details before the Grand Jury.


    If the time between the document preparation and final release was very short, then the information must have been both zipped around, and been on a very high priority within the White House. Otherwise, there would be no way that Rove would both get access to this information within a narrow window, still have time to discuss the issue with outsiders, and still have time to draft a memo to Card saying, "I did the right thing in [paraphrasing] dissuading coverage."

    In other words, if the "new information" is the narrow window," then we have to question how this "fast dissemination of a memo that Rove apparently had access to in a narrow window" could not credibly be remembered.

    I argue that the contrary position was known within the White House: Not only was there are short turn around time on the Memo; but the memo was sufficiently coordinated by the imprint people in the White House so that there is no way that anyone could say, "I can't remember" as the only way it could be turned around this quickly and Rove and others remember the name is if everyone in the White House elevated the document, they had a quick table talk, and they jointly agreed how to handle the information.

    IN other words, there was a meeting and all of them are playing stupid about it. But the short turn around time and fast coordination could only have occurred if the key players were involved.

    But, in 2005, we are absurdly asked to embrace absurdity: That despite the fast turnaround and needed coordination by the key people, nobody can remember this "fast turnaround document".

    That is absurd.


    If the "Short turn around time is the "new news," then I would have expected the WaPo to have covered the implication of this short turn around time.


  • I want the WaPo to talk to people who formerly worked in the White House, find out exactly what is required to get a memo like this fully coordinated in a short amount of time; what kind of e-mail and document notifications are made; and the type of table talks and rushing around that would be both required and reasonably remembered.

    In turn, I want to hear form a criminal defense attorney and a former prosecutor that talks about the reasonableness of someone saying despite all this rushing around that they "forgot" or "can't remember."

    Then I want someone to talk to the public about the contrast between what the statutes are on "what is reasonable to remember or not remember" and contrast that with the assertions we are led t believe.

    Main issue: Has Rove feigned stupidity and ignorance about something that a reasonable person, given the short turn around time, would have to remember because there was so much work, coordination, and discussion on this point . . . and later, they agreed [Libby, Rove, Card] to feign stupidity about something that a reasonable person, after discussing this high priority item would remember.

    If that's the issue, then the grand jury is likely saying: It is not credible that these guys are playing stupid or feigning ignorance as they were all madly rushing around to quickly turn this around.

    Meaning: The WaPo then needs to outline directly: Is the scope of the "obstruction of justice" and "perjury charge" broader because the Grand Jury knows there was a meeting, they knew who attended, and that the Vice President was in attendance, and that many are feigning stupidity because they want the Vice President not to be called before the Grand Jury?

    I can't answer that. But that's what the WaPo should be diving into: More of the "what are the implications" of this new information, how does it contrast with what we knew before; and given this new information what can no longer be believed, and is the actual scope of the investigation going after a specific list of people who coordinated on this memo, were in attendance at this coordinated meeting, and is the Vice president's initials on the coordinating documents as they were in the Energy Task force memoranda?

    Or, are you telling me that the documents are lost and nobody can find them?

    Then, the issue becomes records retention; and if someone is saying "They're all gone" then what does this say about the NSA tapes that likely can confirm what was actually said, despite the denials?

    Answer: The scope of the obstruction of justice issues has answers in the NSA tapes which record all the meetings, memos, and data flying in and out of the White House.

    That is not news, as we already talked about the NSA having information on the obstruction of justice allegations.

    What's preventing the NSA from turning over the data about the White House to Fitzgerald?

    Who's getting in the way of NSA tapes and intercepts from these coordinating meetings from going before the Grand Jury?

    There are 5 countries in Echelon: Why isn't the Grand Jury getting access to the tapes from UK, Canada, US, NZ, or Australia if they will answer these questions which the White House, Vice President, and Staff appear to not be answering?

    Next steps

    After we get a clear idea of the "charades" and "patterns of conduct" in the White House, we then have to overlay those against what other issues we've been told about:

  • Campaign financing from the overseas accounts

  • How effectively the Guantanamo issues were discussed

  • What was most likely to have been discussed about the Iraq war planning

    Each of the above issues, although unrelated directly to Plame, would then have to be cast in a new shadow:

  • What have we been publicly told

  • What were we led to believe

  • What is the White House actually doing

  • What new conclusions can we draw about the veracity and credibility of the players in their representations of what was known/not known about WMD and the legal discussions with Number 10 on the foundation for war?

    Again, the issue is not what is reality: But how is the "new information" shedding new light on what has already happened, is fixed in time, and is a real situation:

  • Discussion with counsel and coordination on issues in the run up to the war in Iraq;

  • Who would reasonably be expected to be part of the planning meetings;

  • How the decisions were made [using the WaPo new info on short turn around time as an analogy]

  • What most likely happened when the White House was given new information on WMD, and still wanted to spin the war: Who was in the meetings; how were the meetings run; and how were the decision made with respect to reviewing the laws and standards.

    What is clear is that the law and standards are clear.

    What is not clear is who is actually involved in these meetings; who had a duty to speak when they knew [per Number 10 attorney general who resigned] that the laws was without foundation.

    If there were any military personnel involved in this WMD-Plame planning meeting, then we have to ask what other military personnel were involved other WMD-related meetings that had a duty to resign when carrying out what was arguably "well known" were unlawful orders.

    Yes, DoD and UCMJ with war crimes not just against military personnel but also the civilian leadership and personnel who were in a close position to advise the President, as evidenced by the fast turnaround on the Plame-Memo on July 10th-11th.

    Bottom line: If this WaPo "new info" is what I think it is: The issue isn't simply a leak of a CIA agents name; it shows the planning and coordination that went into launching what is an illegal war; and a reasonable basis to bring war crimes charges against civilians in the White House for advising the President, and being in a position to influence the national leadership, just as Goerring advised Hitler.

    If that's "not the news" then let's hear some details.

    But the direction this Prosecutor appears to be going is in the direction of war crimes allegations against Rove, Libby, and Card for their role in allegedly aiding the US national leadership in engaging in what is now known to be an unlawful war of aggression.